When I had to replace one of my A/C units (there is one for the first floor, a smaller one for the lower, which rarely runs) last summer one of the guys said that I had had a rat or mouse in the heating room, but it was (luckily) gone.  So he sprayed some foam into the insulation around the pipes for the units outside where any creature could have gotten in.  A week or so ago I went to find the cat and she was sitting by the units watching that area.  A few days later I saw a tiny nose with whisker at the end in the insulation, and noticed that the foam had been chewed away.

So I borrowed my neighbor’s rat trap which catches them alive, baited it with peanut butter on a cracker, and sure enough, by next morning had caught one.  Darling creature!  (I neglected to take a photo; this from the Net.)  I know that my neighbor drowns pack ratcritters 008them in his pool (while in the trap), then throws them beyond his fence for the coyotes.  They’re always gone the next day.

critters 009I couldn’t do it, so let it go on the far side of the yard.  And plugged up the chewed opening with rocks.  But now I am worried that there are babies left behind, and they’ll die and stink up the place.  Sigh!  Must somehow get the plywood front of the area below the heaters….

But did order my own live trap, for further use.  Pack rats can be very destructive.  At the house I lived in when my kids were little we had a pool and spa.  The rats got into the equipment, and ate the wiring.  Cost a lot to replace the wiring, plus getting the pump and heater rat-proofed.   When my mother was ill and not driving her car, it sat in her carport, and a rat got into the engine area and chewed on  some wires.  This is quite common in Tucson with carports.

A friend with a carport tried bars of Irish Spring soap around the wheels of her car, and left the carport light on all night.  It seemed to work.  But another friend said that her packrats chewed on the Irish Spring soap!

The recent suggestions that I have gotten were: put mothballs in the den so they won’t return, and stuff aluminum foil into the opening, as rats won’t chew that ’cause it’s too hard on their teeth.  When the repair man fixed my spa he said that it looked like packrats wanted to make a home under the deck, so he scattered mothballs there.  Haven’t seen any sign of packrats there since, but when you sit in the spa there is an overwhelming smell of mothballs!

Other critters

critters 006A tiny bird (maybe 5″ head to tail) was dead next to my bedroom door.  Wings not right for a verdin.  No finch color.  Bushtits don’t have orange beaks.  Anyone?

Looked at the slider for the crash – sure enough, two tiny breast feathers stuck to the door.  My cat rarely catches a bird, but my house does, unfortunately.

Seen today: a young deer on the sidewalk, ignoring cars going down the street, eating palo verde seedpods from the tree.

critters 018Rabbits like to dig a shallow hole into damp dirt (from the drip system) to relax during the day.  Photo here of one next to the driveway hedge.

I tried corralling my cat on the deck by shutting off the spiral stairs with a child gate (used for my grandchildren).  Hah!  She inspected it for a few minutes, then leapt over.  May try three-foot chicken wire next.  Anyway, she stalked a rabbit cooling under a Texas ranger next to the house, in the shade.  Being older than the one that she had killed, it took off across the yard in a blur of fur.

critters 017Guess I don’t need to put out finch seed.  Not only do they love the seeds on the rosemary and creosote, but they feast on aphids and ants on my sunflower.  I watch them from my shower.  Four were on it this morning.  (And five this afternoon when I went out to the garden.)

Scorpions can be found anywhere.  In my bathrobe, I bent down and a tiny scorpion dropped from my collar.  I thanked it for not stinging me and let it scuttle beneath the cabinets.  Loading the dishwasher, I found a larger one below a dish in the sink.  I caught it under a glass, slide a card beneath it, and dropped it into the rosemary.

red 010A collared lizard (see photo), who likes to sit on my bedroom patio and lunge at bugs, lives in the rosemary and will probably eat all of the insects I drop into it.

critters 003The turquoise spiny lizard was back on my kitchen widow sill and watched me as I finished the dishes.


Friends here know that when I can’t remember something I usually say, I haven’t gotten my Google implant yet!  Well, after having read the novel, The Word Exchange, by Alena Graedon, I am never getting it!  In this dystopian  future, after everyone is tied to their “meme” (iphone) or their implant, and no longer try to remember anything, the company starts to charge per word.  So if you can’t afford it, you’ve lost all of your records, and can barely speak.  But it gets really bad with a computer virus…

A highly contagious, sometimes fatal virus called “word flu” has leapt from computers to their users, corrupting not only written language but also spoken words with gibberish and scaring the “pask” out of infected “netizens”.1

Just finished reading The God of Small Things, a Booker Prize winner by Indian writer Arundhati Roy2.  It was hard for me to slog through the dysfunctional Indian family story.  If you’ve had enough of India’s brutality against women and the lower castes, having just read about the two girls, 12 and 14, who were raped and then hung by their scarves from a mango tree3 in Uttar Pradesh, don’t read this book.  Well written, although I found I had to google avalose oondas (a rice candy flavored with lime and cardamon) and other Malayalam words, but totally depressing.

To offset that, I needed a bit of whimsy.  One of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels4.  The television series, True Blood, is dreadful, besides all of the graphic sex, but the books are funny.  Sookie is the main character, and her grandmother loves the vampire she’s “dating” because he was in the Civil War and she can have him speak to her “Descendants of the Glorious Dead”, an organization devoted to honoring the memory of the Civil War.  The vampires have “come out” and many people (especially where it takes place, in the South) have a hard tie dealing with it.  Not such a veiled reference to their warmth to the LGBT community.  Anyway, the books are a kick, and you can read one in a day (but you should read them in order).


critters 019I have lots of volunteer flowers in my vegetable garden because I make my own compost, and the seeds in it sprout.  I have dug some snapdragons up and put them in pots, but when I put them in my backyard the leaves were immediately gone.  Guess the rabbits loved them.  They don’t nibble on the wildflowers, however, the gazanias and desert sand verbena (some of which I’ve also transplanted from the vegetable garden).  Have a volunteer prairie coneflower next to the Mexican primrose, I guess from the wildflower seeds I spread two or three years ago in the compost.


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6 Responses to “Packrat”

  1. Lyn Kagey Says:

    Why do you think that the same pack rat won’t be back in your AC tomorrow? Good luck!

    • notesfromthewest Says:

      Yeah, I think it is. That’s why I have to get the plywood off and clean out the den. (A. used to say the same things about the scorpions I tossed outdoors, that they’d just return.)

  2. N Says:

    You might like author Chris Pavone — The Expats and recently The Accident. I recommend both; liked the latter best.

    • notesfromthewest Says:

      Thanks for the recommendations. Just reserved The Accident at the library: 15 of 15 holds on 6 copies. From the NY Times:

      One character in “The Accident” began as a receptionist at a literary agency, fully believing she would work her way up through the ranks. “But then that big bully of a beast rose up and ate her profession,” Mr. Pavone writes. “First the web devoured book clubs, then magazines, and now its maw is agape, ravenous, ready to swallow the whole bloody publishing business.” Luckily, unputdownable books like Mr. Pavone’s help keep the business alive and well.

  3. Richard Kizu-Blair Says:

    Your bird might be a gray flycatcher…

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