Pack Rats

Ozark, MO(Zone 6a)

The winter before last, a rat built a nest in the engine compartment of my tractor in our pole barn. That year I'd got lazy and let my garden plants stand all winter in the garden next to the barn. The nest was full of bean pods, pieces of dried tomatoes, etc. I couldn't blame the rat for coming to such good shelter and food - that was my fault. Unfortunately, it chewed up the electrical wires of the tractor, and that was expensive to fix.

I set two rat traps, and immediately caught a large female Eastern Wood Rat (pack rat). That must have been the only one there because I had no further problem. I felt bad about having to kill it and I was surprised that it wasn't rat-like at all. A very pretty animal, and very clean-looking.

I read up on pack rats, and they usually don't bother people or go into buildings - they prefer to live in the woods. They like shiny things, and they sometimes trade what they have for other objects.

Well, about 3 weeks ago I lost my tractor key. I always keep it on a beam that runs crossways about 7' off the ground on the inside wall of the pole barn - that's so visiting grandkids can't start the tractor. The key was just gone, my wife and I looked everywhere, and fortunately I have a spare key.

Yesterday as I was putting the tractor back in the barn I saw a pack rat running along the same beam where the key had been. Well, I thought, that explains what happened to the key. Not wanting any more chewed wiring, I set the traps again in the barn last night.

This morning one trap was thrown and laying upside-down on the ground. There was blood on the trap, and the TRACTOR KEY was laying right beside the trap!

I think the rat must have been carrying his trophy from three weeks ago when he set off the trap. My wife thinks the rat GAVE THE KEY BACK after getting hurt in the trap. Nah, they couldn't be that smart, could they?

I really hate to hurt, and probably kill, these interesting animals. I keep a lot of equipment in that barn, and I just can't have wire-chewing rats in there. If they're that smart, I'm hoping they'll get the idea and move back to the woods which are only about 100 feet away. They don't need shelter from the cold this time of year.

Fritch, TX(Zone 6b)

that is a neat story! i had pack rats one year come in and dig up my corainder seeds right out of the jiffy pellets, and they didn't leave me anything in return! there are a few keys i would like to "find" LOL...

we had a surge of cotton rats due to the nrighbor cleairng mesquite weher they lived. i think us moving the piles they were under [using old gopher tunnels] and the cats getting busy helped a lot. but meanwhile i lost MANY small chicks...

hopefully the remainder will move back out to pasture, where they belong, i thihnk they also come in when rain is in short supply, they do get thirsty!

of course, cotton rats are NOT cute.,..

Paris, TN(Zone 6b)

Hahahaha, I thought this thread was about human pack rats (a species which apparently originated within my own personal familial bloodline).

Okay, so storing spare keys in the barn is not a good idea if you have a pack rat (non-human) around your barn. Hmmm. The keys to all of the gates and houses for the property were missing when we got here and we have had to put new locks in on the chance that a human got ahold of them. Wonder if it's possible that it was a pack rat? Must go look up pack rats now.....

I would have a hard time killing something cute too. Deer are cute, but they sure taste good. Maybe one will have a heart attack on the property....hehe. Heck, I even talked J into leaving the huge black snakes in the near barn, as I'm sure they're keeping the rodent population in check. And they ain't cute....(the snakes)

Fritch, TX(Zone 6b)

look for the human packrats thread in the cleanup forum...

yep you had better keep the snakes.

i have lost much of what i planted [all they could reach] to the cotton rats...

meanwhile, a mama kitty came and had her babies, left when they were on solid food. and another cat we got last year who looked a little femeine, IS, and she will have babies soon. mother nature's way of helping us with the sudden influx of rats? hope so...

Fayette, MO(Zone 6a)

Great story Ozark! I don't think I have seen this particular animal on my place. We have certainly had our share of mice though.

Two years ago I was moving something around where my big compressor is and a black snake popped its head up, looked at me and went back into hiding quietly. I know they love mice. Left that big girl in peace.

This year I found a discarded black snake skin taller than me and I'm 5' 6" tall.. Have only seen one mouse at the barn this year.

My cat seems to like everything that I don't want her to catch.. birds, lizards, butterflies, baby rabbits *(actually like her catching baby rabbits).. Have never seen her with a mouse.

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