Pack rats

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  • Colour Brownish grey
  • Size About 30 cm long, nose to tail
  • Also known as Wood rats
  • Description Have large eyes and long whiskers, with tails that are half the length of their body. Its underbelly is a lighter colour.

How to identify pack rats

Pack rats, also known as woodrats, have large eyes and long whiskers. They are about 30cm long, and their tails account for half of their length. A pack rat has brownish-grey fur on its back and sides with a lighter underbelly.

Pack rats get their unusual name from their habit of stealing and storing household items. Trash and metallic objects, such as coins and keys, are favourite targets. In addition to taking belongings, these pests create problems for homeowners with their nesting and feeding habits.

Signs of an infestation

These animals typically live in seasonal homes or outbuildings like barns or sheds. Nests, droppings, trails of trampled grass, greasy rub marks on surfaces, and gnaw marks all indicate a pack rat infestation. Shiny objects may go missing when the pests invade homes.

Pack rats Removal

Prevention methods decrease the chance that pack rats will make it into homes. However, once the pests are inside, professional help is usually necessary. Traps and baits are most effective when used by trained specialists. For prompt and friendly assistance with pack rat removal, homeowners can contact Orkin Canada.

How can I prevent pack rats invading?

Repairing any holes in home siding or foundations, even those as small as 12mm in diameter helps reduce entryways for pack rats. These pests are excellent climbers, so roofs and attics need rodent-proofing as well.

Prevention Tips

  • Check wiring for chew marks and gnawing
  • Check the walls for rubbing marks or holes
  • Look out for small, pellet-like droppings
  • Keep food preparation areas clean
  • Clean up spills and crumbs immediately
  • Remove food sources, including bird feeders
  • Clean and rotate dumpsters regularly
  • Make sure trash cans are covered tightly
  • Trim back vegetation from building exterior
  • Seal any cracks or holes with caulk or foam
  • Fix leaky soda or ice machines and HVAC units
  • Remove any standing water outside
  • Don’t leave doors open for a long time
  • Install weather strips around doors and windows

Habitat, Diet, and Life Cycle


Most areas, from dry deserts to mountains and plains, are host to at least one species of pack rat. In general, the pests can survive anywhere within their habitat range that provides shelter and a food source. This makes homes and yards inviting.


Pack rats eat vegetation, seeds, nuts, and fruits. When they get into buildings, the pests consume stored cereals and grains. Pack rats living inside may draw from outdoor food sources, as well.

Life Cycle

Breeding occurs in spring. Pack rats have litters of two or three babies after a gestation period of about a month. Mothers raise newborns in nests and wean them after four weeks. A pack rat reaches maturity in about a year and has an average lifespan of around three years.

Commonly Asked Questions

Why do I have pack rats?

Pack rats, also called wood rats, can survive anywhere there is shelter and food, from dry deserts, mountains, and plains to your home and yard.

They are excellent climbers and usually make nests in attics, basements, and crawl spaces. Outside, pack rats eat vegetation, seeds, nuts, and fruits. Once indoors, they add stored cereals and grains to their diet.

How worried should I be about pack rats?

Pack rats make massive multi-layer nests, which feature “middens”, central sections consisting of branches, debris, and small stones held together by pack rat urine and feces. These middens often attract cockroaches and other pests.

These rats will also rip up mattresses and furniture, to use the soft padding to line their nests, and steal and store household items, especially trash and metallic objects, such as utensils, coins, keys, and jewellery.

Like all rats, pack rats can transmit many diseases, as well as contaminating food with their faeces, saliva, and urine and the parasites like mites and ticks that they carry with them.

Pack rats give birth to much smaller litters than other rats, producing only two or three offspring at a time, so in theory an infestation should be more manageable. However, they live much longer than other rats, with an average lifespan of about three years, so can stick around.

Take measures to try to prevent pack rats entering your home, but once inside, it’s crucial to get the help of a professional pest control service, to set up traps, bait, and a sanitation program.

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