Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

AWW RATS! ; One Particular Rodent Does Serious Damage in Short Span

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

AWW RATS! ; One Particular Rodent Does Serious Damage in Short Span

Article excerpt

Many species of wildlife usually elicit a positive response from most Kansans. However, a few critters are likely on the list of "most unwanted" and for many of them it's easy to see exactly why. One such beast is the Eastern woodrat.

These little vermin, commonly called a packrat, are exactly that and as far as I'm concerned have little value. In fact, they're often destructive to the point of costing vehicle owners, homeowners, farmers and others thousands of dollars in damage as a result of their antics. They chew on vehicle and farm equipment wiring, siding, air conditioning unit hoses and anything else they can get their little rodent incisors on, in and around.

I suppose they'd just be fine in the grand scheme of things, provided they left us humans and our "stuff" alone. I'm sure they're a link in a food chain to some degree, but with other less destructive and obnoxious options I can do without them. I've recently come to appreciate Bill Murray's distaste for rodents and his obsession with ridding the golf course of a gopher. It's not a packrat, but I feel his pain.

My most recent episode with a packrat started out just a couple weeks ago. I was in my shed looking for something when I noticed something strange. I had two complete turkey tail fans I had mounted on stakes I use as decoys during the spring season sitting on a shelf. They were beautiful specimens from mature toms that dried nicely and worked perfectly the past couple seasons. However, 99 percent of the feathers, hundreds of them, had "disappeared" and the only thing remaining was the stake and a couple feather shafts at the base of the fan.

I was flabbergasted. I worried my procrastination fixing a rotten board on the bottom of my door had allowed a squirrel or possum or some other critter to get into my shed and inflict this damage. Although I'd never had a problem with a packrat in my shed, he was a suspect, too, particularly reasoning the other culprits didn't seem culpable in this instance.

So I declared war and decided I'd get to the bottom of it one night after work. My biggest fear was it had taken up residence in my ATV, or chewed integral parts of a machine I use frequently in the fall and winter. I've got way too much stuff in my shed and decided the only way to investigate was to remove everything and see what was going on. It would be an arduous chore, lasting several hours, but the answers to my question were soon evident.

As I removed items from my shed I found other damage from the rodent. I had two decoy bags with shoulder straps chewed in half. Three sets of leather gloves had one hand missing, or had big holes chewed in them. But after cleaning out the bottom side of my 12- foot-by-16-foot shed I had found no absolute evidence of an Eastern woodrat's presence. …

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