This is the kind of mess that packrats make.
This was taken in the Packrat Palace, the vast, hideous unfinished lodge that the previous occupant of the property, Ginty Paul, started to build. There was a lot of exposed insulation in the abandoned building, and the packrat has added bits of paper, sticks, and great piles of vegetation for winter fodder. At Nuk Tessli I have found small ornaments, bits of hummingbird feeders put away for the winter, nuts and screws, shiny paper, a mouse trap with a dead mouse in it, and piles of dried dog poop.
Apart from the mess, they create a terrible stink, especially the full grown males. They use a scent gland on their bellies to mark their territories. They stain everything with sticky, dark urine, and scatter droppings like black rice everywhere.
Their nests are separate from these piles. They are cup-shaped like birds’ nests.
Four had taken up residence in the porch of my first cabin at Ginty Creek. Something had made a hole in the wall, and the place was a disaster. As well as leaves, there were hundreds of wizened mushrooms. The dogs killed the first. I blocked the hole and I set a trap and caught another.
I couldn’t figure out where they were still coming in. They are strict vegetarians and the bait has to be vegan (I used an apple). I caught two more before I eventually concluded that they were squeezing through the gaps made by the little ridges of the metal roofing where it lay against the strapping. The hole looked far too small for a packrat.
They are also noisy, and gallop around the eaves like a herd of elephants. They are the size of a western red squirrel. Their official name is bushy-tailed woodrat. They have amazingly long whiskers and incredibly soft fur. If it weren’t for their smell they would have been high on a furrier’s list. As long as they stay in the barns I don’t mind. (And out of my van: when it was hot I left the door open and found hundreds of little pawprints in the dust on the dash….)