What IS That?


Behind our house there is a small creek bed.

During winter rains it can get quite large. That possibility requires that the humans living here make sure the bed is clear of debris. The last thing needed during some freak deluge is a dam made of sticks and leaves.

The Creek Bed

That cleaning project led to a strange discovery today.

Odd pile of sticks and leaves

It was an odd pile of sticks and leaves. Piled up, in a rather orderly fashion, next to the base of a tree. It clearly was by an animal of some sort.

But what animal? And why?

A second pile of sticks showed an entrance.

Wondering what was living in my back yard, I searched the internet. I mean, where else can you ask the question, “What animal makes a home out of sticks in an oak forest in California?” and get an answer in a split second?

Well, you think you might be a packrat? Meet the home of the real packrat! Actually it is the home of the Dusky-footed Woodrat.

The packrat nickname comes from their habit of picking up bright shiny things and carrying them around until they find the next item. That explains the discovery of odd little bits of toys and jewelry we have occasionally found in our backyard

You know where else they like to live?

In your attic.

Which explains the strange pitter-patter over my head this last summer.

We thought was that it couldn’t be mice as the sound was too loud and heavy. It wasn’t a racoon because it wasn’t that loud or heavy. Maybe a squirrel?

But there were no entrances into the attic that would allow a squirrel or a racoon to get in.

The little holes and openings were searched out and closed. The pest control company (one of the ecologically educated ones!) set up deterrence barriers and–no more scurrying of little feet over my head.

So they built new homes down by our creek bed.

Dusky-footed woodrat at Henry W. Coe State Park, east of Gilroy. Photo by Kevin Nibur.

This little one is nocturnal and the society is matriarchal. They keep there homes clean of scat and other waste materials. They build bedrooms and storage rooms.

I am glad they have a new home.

Categories: Uncategorized

3 comments

  1. What a lovely neighbour to have! Probably better outside than in your house though šŸ˜…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It took awhile to get them out of the attic. They are cute in a photograph but noisy nuisance when you are trying to sleep!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The little packrat sounds like the ground’s version of a crow, searching for bright shiny things for their home. Glad you got the little guy out of your house and into one of his own.

    Like

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