Pack Rat Stories
In the last issue of the Signpost Web, we asked for your Pack Rat stories. Published here are a few of the best efforts.
Pardon me, ma'am
I think pack rats are cute . . . but I’d rather they kept out of my underwear!
Last summer, we had pack rats. They were in the shed, in the wood pile, and under the porch. My husband lifted up his windsurfer to take it up to Cochiti for a ride and found a sweet little family of five. Looking kind of gerbil-ish, they are hard to hate, though their propensity for making carens of dog poop and cactus leaves me feeling a little shitty.
One day, I cleaned out my closet and drawers anticipating a ladies’ clothing swap party and stacked the bags outside on our front porch overnight. The next morning, I went out to tidy up our shed. Holy moley! There in the center of the shed floor was an elaborate nest made by a most ingenious pack rat, undoubtedly female. It was a beautiful, 12-inch circular wreath of dog poop, cactus, and, well, let’s just say “found objects,” carefully and completely lined with my old favorite silk teddie that she had selectively pulled from inside the bags and dragged to the shed. Remarkable really, she had astoundingly good taste, but all I could say was “Rats!”
Well, some say it’s better to have pack rats than squirrels or mice because they don’t carry the plague. And they certainly provide lots of exercise for our "enchanting" great horned owl population. So let them move in, but, first, put a lock on your underwear drawer
—Name withheld by request
My asstant at the office told me about her husband's packrat ordeal: he had an old Willys jeep in the backyard that packrats literally filled up inside (the cab) with cholla cactus pieces. He took a pair of tongs and filled up a a few barrels with the cholla. Took him all morning. He made the mistake of leaving the barrels next to the jeep overnight. Next morning, the cholla was back in the jeep.
Having discussed packrat remedies at length with various Placitas residents, neighbor Dennis Robinson related the following;
Dennis likes the old reliable Victor rat traps, but if the rats are nesting in a confined area a purple poison tab could be used to kill them. He gave some of these poison tabs to a friend who was having packrat problems and he placed them near an active area.
One day his friend started up his old pickup truck that had been left idle for some time and jumped onto the highway for a trip to the City. After a few miles on the highway, a strange purple smoke began flowing from the air-conditioning vent system into the cab of the truck. “What the Heck” I’m sure he must have remarked, It became so bad that even with the windows lowered the driver was forced to the side of the road.
When he popped the hood, he found an active rat nest replete with the poison the rat had packed into the nest. The engine heat combined with the poison bait in an attempt to asphyxiate Dennis’s friend. The hunter became the hunted in the revenge of Placitas packrat.
—Peter C. Benjamin
We heard scratching in the wall in the front of the house. Upon looking outside, we noticed a 2 inch hole between the cement porch, the blacktop driveway, and up against the stucco. Looked like pack rats to me.
I filled the hole with 1 inch gravel that was in the driveway and added a bit of cement for good measure and on top of that, some water.
The next morning the hole was wide open as if nothing had happened.
Undaunted, I proceeded to fill the hole with larger rocks which I hammered into place with a sledge hammer. The rocks were really in there and I was unable to free one with my bare hands.
Towards the late afternoon, I observed the last of the rocks disappearing into the hole.
This was escalating rapidly! I had to show this little critter who was boss.
The next morning, I found some even larger rocks including a splendid wedge-shaped rock just a bit larger than the hole which I once again pounded into the opening with the sledge hammer. There was no way this rock was going to be displaced by anybody, with or without tail.
By the end of the day, I was proud to see the rock was still firmly in place.
But the next morning, I got there just in time to see the top of the wedge-shaped rock as it was slowly lowered into the hole!
This was no ordinary pack rat. This little bugger had to be on steroids!
Finally I placed a piece of 2 x 12 that was in the garage over the hole and placed a rock weighing about 40 pounds on top of that.
This, I am happy to relate, has held, but I dread lifting the rock and looking inside the hole for fear of finding an even larger cavern and series of tunnels. And whenever it is windy, and the house rocks a little, it always feels as if the house is going to be swallowed into the pack rat’s labyrinth.
For those of you pack rat lovers who are calling me every name in the book, I have to point out that no more than two feet from the opening of the hole is a flower bed, from within I have no doubt, the occupants of the hole stand, holding their sides, doubled up in laughter, watching the grumpy old guy with the beet red face swearing epithets at the unseen little varmits.
—Pack rat victim
Ranchos de Placitas