Nature Notes

Vol. X May, 1932 No. 5

Oh, Rats!

Neotoma cinera occidentalis is his name. And, possibly, in protest of that designation he devotes his life to the perpetuation of the petty thievery and outlandish habits that has resulted in most of us calling him "pack rat" or "wood rat". And, once having had the pleasure of being the object of his affections, you will possibly surmise that countless other terms have been applied to this animal. You might even go so far as to add a few yourself -- though it is doubtful that they will be original.

The Pack Rat is familiar with most everyone who has spent much time on the trails in the western mountains. And countless stories -- mostly fiction -- have been woven about this animal's escapades in borrowing various articles about cabins in the woods. But the prize story of all is the one about the pet pack rat in a miner's cabin who had learned to chew tobacco, had desired another "plug" but lacked the money. So he borrowed a dollar from the miner while he was asleep, purchased the tobacco and left ninety cents in charge.

These animals are very numerous about the park. They are present in many of the cabins and though they are not very destructive they are a well organized nuisance. Summit climbers spending the night at Camp Muir are always given an exuberant welcome by them. It is then that they seem in an extremely playful mood - racing about over one's face or jerking the woolen caps from our heads as we sleep.

They build nests of twigs, leaves and other similar litter, and should they be disturbed, they will carry this litter to a new location and re-build the nest. But, with all their aggrevating traits they are an interesting bit of animal life in the Park.

Pack or Wood Rat

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