Winter Drives Pack Rats To Seek Shelter & Food

Pack rat next to a food tray

When the temperature gets colder, pack rats will often look for an easy meal and warm shelter in our homes, garages, and even under our cars’ hoods. Although these little rodents can be cute to some, pack rats should not be taken lightly. They often carry diseases and can cause significant damage to your home and property.

Pack rats are notorious for chewing through electrical wiring and according to some estimates, as much as 25% of house fires of unknown causes are attributed to rodents. Also, pack rats will relieve themselves anywhere causing health hazards and nasty odors. Good news on the disease front: they don’t transmit plague or hantavirus, but they are carriers of Rocky Mountain Tick Fever. So, if you find a dead or dying one DO NOT TOUCH IT!

To nip this potential problem in the bud, let’s learn what attracts pack rats to your home and how to help get rid of them this winter.

What Attracts Pack Rats To Your Home?

When you’re trying to figure out how to keep rats away, it helps to think of what a rat would need to survive – warmth and food. So, the best pack rat deterrent is to remove any factors that offer these rodents food or shelter. The most effective pack rat control begins with prevention. Here are several ways to do just that:

  • Keep your property clean from dead catcti and overgrown weeds
  • Trim trees back so they do not touch or hang over your home
  • Stack firewood far away from your home
  • Fix leaky outdoor faucets to cut off water supplies
  • Do not to leave the pet food outside
  • Clean up pet excrement from your yard
  • Make sure the lids on your trashcans are secured tightly

Pack Rat Proof Your House

While the first step is knowing what attracts pack rats, the second step is figuring out how they enter your home. Here are several ways to do just that:

  • Pack rats are like little Houdini’s artist – meaning they only need an opening about the size of a dime to get their body into your home.
  • Have your home inspected and holes/cracks sealed.
  • Check for cracks or openings around the doors and garage too and have them professionally sealed.
  • Screen vents and openings to chimneys.
  • Install weather stripping on exterior doors and repair damaged screens.
  • Pack rats build large nests at the base of cactus or small rocky areas.
  • Have the nests removed or pack rats will keep coming back.

A Popular Product For Protecting Your Car

Sold at Ace Hardware Stores


Are your vehicles at risk from pack rats eating the wires or building nests in your engine? A lot of our customers have purchased the Rid-a-Rat to avoid this problem and it is a safe and effective solution! 

This is not a sonic device, it uses LED light technology which causes the pack rat’s iris to contract and expand repeatedly causing eye fatigue, disorientation and nausea, which encourages the pack rat to find a new territory. No need to worry about draining the car battery, it uses less current than the digital clock or other phantom draws from the car battery!

The Tell-Tale Signs Of Pack Rats 

“Pack Rat” is the common term for what is really a white-throated woodrat. Their color differs from to blackish brown, to rich reddish tan most having white to grayish bellies. They have long tails, large ears, and large black eyes. They are primarily nocturnal and most active the half hour after sunset, and just before dawn.

Pack rats that live in Tucson do not hibernate. They can live inside the base of cactus and trees or in small rock area openings in your landscape. They love shiny objects which they like to steal them and pack them away (thus the term “pack rat”) in a large nest called a midden. Scientists have used the debris found in middens as a “time capsule” record of plant and climate change. The pack rat collects twigs, seeds, nuts, and leaves to incorporate into their middens and cement it all together with their own urine.

These ‘pack rats’ can also be the source of the scampering you may hear on your roof. You may not really be losing your mind thinking you are misplacing things, it might just be that the pack rats are taking them while you are not looking.

According to the University of Arizona, some of the signs of pack rats are:

  • Ground-level nests near cacti
  • Piles of coarse wood debris against your home
  • Scurrying sounds on the roof at night
  • Nervous or excited pets
  • Discovery of a sizable food stash
  • Remnants of hollowed out citrus fruits, where pack rats leave nothing but the rind

I'd Rather Move Than Deal With These Creatures!

To treat pack rat infestations effectively, your property requires a trained technician to accurately determine the type of rodents, where they are getting into your home, and the size of the rodent population. This information will help a professional determine the right approach for dealing with them.

Expert help will give you much better results than working on your own and relieve you of the “ick” factor associated with pack rats. Contact us today to schedule an inspection by an experienced specialist.

One last thought… once pack rats have been removed, we suggest having the nests removed also. Empty nests attract snakes, coyotes, bobcats, even neighboring packrats.

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