Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Packrat Saga - Sharing the Desert

It's no secret amongst my friends and family that I've been invaded over the past few months by packrats! major expensive issues ensued like replacing the motor in a three week old washing machine, re-sealing the garage doors and, lots of calls to the packrat experts in town to come and get them. We became really chummy, packrat expert man and I - first name, stop in for coffee when you come to get the catch of the day- chummy. There have been one or two lighthearted moments - dog for instance managed to get the peanut butter laden cracker intended for said packrat on his forehead. For the most part they have been a pain!

I've done all the right prickly pear close to the house; no accessible bird food. Realized about 4 months ago (alerted by psychotic midnight yowling from the cat) that something was invading the house at night. Other tell tale signs were chew marks around the rim of the dog's bowl and the stuffing pulled from a window seat cushion. At first I blamed the cat but she huffed at me and lead me to the garage storage closet where we found the scene of a massacre. My prized ostrich feather duster was well and truly dead - feathers everywhere- looked as if it had fought the good fight though. Next the washing machine quit. I was indignant as I called service...hmph, less than a month old and all that. When the machine was pulled out Mr. & Mrs. Packus Ratus' luxury, ostrich feather lined quarters were in full view. There was some other material lining the nest that puzzled me until I moved a couch in the great-room and found the fringe missing from the carpet. Busted you rat!

Then followed about 3 weeks of daily setting of traps, capture and release (please click here for correct technique - it does involve blindfolding the critters) . Six down we figured we had got them all and peace appeared to settle on my little beleaguered kingdom.

Then the wine fridge went kaput. Nada, nothing. It was only today that I cornered someone to help me pull it out from its very snug under-counter lair and there, horrors, was another nest, this time made from carpet fringe and cushion stuffing. There was also enough dog food to support an army on the march for a few years. Obviously dog had not been cleaning his bowl every night and therefore had earned lots of unwarranted "what a good boy, join the clean plate club" pats. He meanwhile was asking "where's dinner?".
Fortunately there were no signs of recent habitation and bleach and disinfection by the bucket load later, I've purified the area.

Co-existing with desert creatures is nothing new. I have no fear of spiders , not even tarantulas on the prowl , so large that you can see them moving in on you from over a mile away; not the javelinas - I put up a fence to keep them out and no amount of pleading by little piggy eyes from the other side will induce me to let them in to eat my succulents. Snakes we won't talk about. But these darn pack rats are Houdinis and I guess I can't afford to let down my guard. I've just had a woman to dog talk with Hamish, putting him on notice that he has perimeter duty and failure to perform will mean curtailment of rations. We'll see. I'm far too busy working on Connections For Women to assume role of hunter. Short of digging a moat and putting up a drawbridge, that I doubt I'll get past the HOA, I'm stuck in this battle for supremacy in the desert. I have the sneaking feeling I won't win.

1 comment:

  1. I'm going thru a similar issue with field mice. Somehow they keep getting in when the winter comes and leave again in the spring. We are hoping for an early spring because there seems to be more of them this year than previous years. The cats only caught one so far and it looks like we need to get traps (capture & release). We haven't found any damage so far, knock wood and I'm getting tired of bleaching everything. It's nice to know I'm not the only one. Best wishes to you!


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