Bushy-tailed Wood Rats Find a Home at High Camp
November 16th, 2014 in Around the Woodstove
The Bushy-tailed Wood Rat is a beautiful, gentle, docile member of the rodent family and looks very much like the rats depicted in the Disney animated movie “Ratatouille”. Bushy-tailed Wood Rats are cute, with large eyes, and whiskers spanning a good two inches; they have large, white, five-toed feet and a long, gorgeous tail and their ears are huge for their body size. They have a face any animal lover would immediately fall in love with. They are not to be confused with the Norway rat which arrived in North America via merchant ships around 1775 and now span the entire North American continent including Alaska. Bushy-tailed Wood Rats are native to North America.
Recently while hosting up at High Camp a guest staying in one of the cabins mentioned to us that they had had a nighttime visitor and suspected some form of large rodent. I immediately suspected a wood rat as they other name for wood rats are “camp robbers” or “pack rats. Occasionally a guest at High Camp may experience a “theft”, some small trinket goes missing and a stick or stone is left in its place. If you were to follow the trail to the culprit’s nest you may find such treasures hidden there: bottle caps, pieces of tinfoil, paperclips, rubber bands, and candy wrappers. The little wood rat has made an exchange, his stick for your bottle cap. Such stolen items are incorporated into the wood rat’s stick and stone nest or crevice.
Wood rat nests are simple to find, just look for the large pile of sticks resembling, in some cases, a misplaced beaver nest. I have seen wood rat nests up to 3 feet high and about 5 feet in diameter. Their haunts can also be located by smelling, yes smelling, for the rich musky odor of their urine which they use to mark their homes and territories. Many times while out hiking in the mountains I will pass a section on a trail and pick up the scent of a nearby wood rat nest. I always want to go explore and find the nest and say hello to my cute friends the Bushy-tailed Wood Rats.
At High Camp we caught the four cute little pests in a live trip over the course of a week and relocated them to a new home….many miles from the cabins.