Monday, November 7, 2011

Caught... Like a Rat

Caught like a rat in a trap.
The problem with woodpiles and woodsheds is that many little critters of the wild find them to be cozy nesting sites, with the wood shed being particularly attractive as winter approaches.

So we recently found ourselves setting a trap, yet again, to capture a pack rat, more officially known as the Eastern woodrat, Neotoma floridana. Lest you see the word "rat" and go "eww," these guys are actually quite cute. Their appearance is more mouse-like than rat-like, as their tails are covered in fur and they have large eyes.

Cuteness aside, their droppings make a mess and they are notorious for "collecting" things to build their nests (hence the name "pack" rat) and for chewing up rubbery stuff, like garden hoses and the insulation on automotive engines.

Apparently, they like onions, too. This summer, while my onions and garlic were curing on a rack in the garage, one of the critters snuck into said garage. One day as I opened the door between the house and garage I heard a "thump," such as our cat would make jumping down from a perch. But our kitty (named Juniper) was in the house at the time, so I became suspicious. Then I found an onion that had been partially eaten. I was certain that was not Juniper's doing. The pile of pack rat droppings confirmed all suspicions.
Pretty Juniper.
So we set the trap, baited with tasties such as raisins and walnuts. The next morning I opened the garage door to look at the trap and found the pack rat looking at me indignantly from its cage. The fact that Juniper (who spends all night and frequently much of the day in the garage) and the rat peacefully cohabited for several days caused my husband to point to it as proof that Juniper does not pull her weight around here and is pretty much worthless.
Those of you who also are not "cat people" would understand his position. Those of us who are cat people just roll our eyes and pity you for not understanding the value of cats.

So back to the rats...

Our live trap had been set up in the woodshed in anticipation of pack rats looking for winter digs. Yesterday my husband found the trap overturned and the bait stolen. So last night he set it up on the concrete floor of the porch next to the wood shed. It didn't take long for our intended victim to find itself trapped. We let it spend the night in its cage, so it could really think about its crime. This morning, I put the trap in the back of the pickup and drove to a pretty spot a couple of miles away and let it go.
The backside of the packrat running into its new home.
That's one pack rat down and a few hundred more to go.

You never have just one.
Pack rat's new home.
And, because it was pretty, the view across the road.


Pear Tree Log said...

I hope you get your pack rat problem sorted! I've really enjoyed reading about though, thank you so much. He looked quite a hefty chap.

Sandra M. Siebert said...

He, or she, was hefty. Although its looks are mouse-like, a pack rat's proportions are rat-like. The thing with living in the country is that you always must deal with wildlife. I wouldn't have it any other way, uhm, mostly.