Ranger Kathryn's Arches

September 13, 2012

Packrats? Not my favorite.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 9:36 am
Tags: , , , , , ,


Gloved up and ready to remove packrat nesting material from my car’s engine.

Scritch scritch scritch.

The unmistakable rodent sound came from within my car’s engine, audible as I sat watching my umpteenth sunset from the front porch. I heard it again, sighed, wandered over to pop the hood open, and found what I least wanted to see: nesting material, freshly-harvested greenery, piled behind one headlight. Poop pellets confirmed that it was indeed Neotoma albigula, our local packrat.

Last season, a co-worker spent $1200 repairing her rodent-gnawed vehicle. Twelve hundred dollars! I had no mothballs or peppermint oil (two alleged deterrents), so I did something rash: set a mousetrap under the car. Baited it with the only thing I had, which was Biscoff spread. Caught me a 13″ (nose to tail) half-pounder. I apologize if that sounds un-rangerish, I really do. Normally I live and let live. But not when my car is at stake, and this critter had already staked its claim.

Ants, feasting. Bypass this photo if you are squeamish about dead things. I made it small on purpose.

Hantavirus is the other concern. Several deaths have happened recently from this rodent-transmitted disease at Yosemite National Park, and in the NPS we don’t take safety issues lightly. All rodent clean-up involves latex gloves, bleach water, and (if necessary) mask to prevent inhaling the virus.

I’ve returned the carcass of the packrat to the back yard, ensuring that the circle of life continues. It’ll make good food for some raven.

Have you been the victim of any rodent damage? Leave a comment.



  1. In the process of remodeling our basement, we found walls full of nests and a ceiling full of their droppings. We cleaned, bleached, sealed and resealed everything – I’m with you on keeping the critters out!

    Comment by Amy (Morris) Williams — September 13, 2012 @ 9:43 am | Reply

  2. Poor Olive! Such an indignity for a well-raised Prius . . .

    Comment by leroque — September 13, 2012 @ 10:50 am | Reply

  3. The herbs on my deck! Squirrels are in their bury-everything-for winter mode and they dig in all the pots. No spray or repellant works. Oh, well, it is September with frost in the forecast for tonight and the herbs are running down anyway. My philosophy is one can kill animals for food, or for self-defense of oneself, one’s expensive car, or one’s delicious herbs. Chris

    Comment by Chris Youngman — September 13, 2012 @ 3:25 pm | Reply

    • I like your list. Thanks for the story! Duluth’s summers are NOT long enough…

      Comment by Kathryn Burke — September 13, 2012 @ 3:39 pm | Reply

  4. A “half-pounder? Sounds like something your brother would say 🙂 This post made me sit up and take notice because at first I thought you said “Pack Rafts not my favorite.” I know that folks in the mountains sometimes wrap chicken wire around their cars to keep the marmots out.

    Comment by midsummerman — September 14, 2012 @ 12:05 pm | Reply

    • I like pack rafts — one gave me the only dunking I’ve ever involuntarily taken in the Colorado River. Glad marmots are not our culprits here; I never knew about the chicken wire…

      Comment by Kathryn Burke — September 14, 2012 @ 12:41 pm | Reply

  5. Rodent invasions are awful and, as you mention, expensive. There is no room for mercy in dealing with the critters. I met a guy who told me a story of an RV in northwestern Utah whose engine compartment had been invaded. Wiring got chewed, leading to a short circuit that started a fire that consumed the vehicle. No one was hurt.

    I have had some encounters with rodents in my car. One was funny but two others were not. They are explained in general by the text on this page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/listorama/sets/72157628083484284/ .Each thumbnail image on that page has additional text. that can be read by clicking on the thumbnail.

    Comment by Dave Beedon — February 15, 2013 @ 10:03 pm | Reply

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