Bushy Tailed Wood Rat

This furry chap is the bushy tailed wood rat… also known as the pack rat, the wood rat, the prairie flounder or Steve to his friends. Let’s not get fooled by our fluffy little friend as it turns out this rat is a rat!…



You see this little fellow is quite the rapscallion spending his days thieving to build a bloody big house. It’s hard to blame the poor soul as small furry things didn’t really get dealt the best hand. They’re more like a furry TV dinner. Every bird of prey, snake, lizard, cat and other carnivorous scoundrels find them to be a rather agreeable amuse-bouche.

i say dear would you mind awfully defrosting a rat... I thought I'd do that nice Italian thingy

i say dear would you mind awfully defrosting a rat... I thought I'd do that nice Italian thingy

So small furry things have hence evolved ways of avoiding being eaten as it is rather tiresome and annoying; they’re quite often fast and generally holed up in a burrow somewhere. Not so the bushy tailed wood rat, he simply builds a big bugger off house or ‘midden’. They wander around their immediate vicinity pinching everything in sight. Of course thousands of years ago that was pinecones, twigs and what not. Now, if you camp a little too close to their midden, it could just as easily include your wristwatch. In fact they are drawn to anything shiny, and will drop whatever they are carrying if something else grabs their attention. For this reason if you are unlucky enough to get a bushy tailed wood rat in your house you may find your family jewels replaced with a pebble… no not those family jewels.

Now for the Ever so Strange bit! You see this chap was rocketed into The Proceedings when we discovered that he holds together these middens with his urine. It sets rock solid like a hard varnish apparently. And we do mean rock solid, some have been found that are 40,000 years old. Which is rather handy as these middens can tell learned types about how the area has changed over millennia.

middens... grim

middens... grim

One final thing on this smashing chap, they don’t hibernate in the winter, but their arch enemy the rattlesnake does. Unfortunately for the bushy tailed wood rat the rattlesnake will often choose a midden to snooze in, while the rat’s still using it. The atmosphere in there is said to be a trifle awkward.

I would write more about this fabulous chap but some buggers had my pen…

Published in: on July 14, 2009 at 12:25 pm  Comments (3)  

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  1. I work for a pest control company out here in California USA, I’ve ran into some on the little guys, they are big carriers if the Black Plauge

  2. Actually that is not a picture of a rat at all, its called a degu and is originally from South America. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degu

    This is a bushy-tailed wood rat: http://media.photobucket.com/image/bushy%20tailed%20wood%20rat/arf2184/DSC08235sm.jpg

  3. (thanks for sharing Bryce) I had a pack rat wreaking havoc in my Garage. So I set a live trap. Two days later I captured it and took “him” 3 miles away to a water source in “the wilderness”. When I let this pack rat out, “he” promptly jumped up under my truck hood. So I drove him back home.

    Two days later I caught him again. This time I parked the truck and walked the trap to the release space…accompanied by my dog. When I released the little critter he jumped free….then, my doggie promptly pounced on “him”. (I called my doggie off and did not have the heart to look.)

    That was this last summer. Recently (December) I was walking my dog and noticed a piece of vine on the ground near my truck. Shortly thereafter I noticed what I thought was a chipmonk, jump up under the hood of my truck. When I popped the hood we both screamed when we saw each other, as it was a pack rat not a chipmonk! I set a snap trap on the manifold and barely shut the hood. Hours later I flipped the hood up, braced for the worst, and there was no sign of the trap, or the pack rat…no tracks, no blood, no fur….A month later my doggie is still looking under my truck for the pack rat….I am a little concerned what Spring will bring!

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