Walks on the Wild Side, Fall-Winter, 2008-9

December 3, 2008
Hacienda Hills, Coyote Trail
4. Inhabitants and Visitors

The woodrat nest built like a haystack of twigs. Photo from Karen.

Our local species, the Big-eared Woodrat, Neotoma macrotis, formerly the dusky-footed woodrat, Neotoma fuscipes, is also called pack rat or trade rat.

"A peculiar characteristic is that if they find something they want, they will drop what they are currently carrying, for example a piece of cactus, and "trade" it for the new item. They are particularly fond of shiny objects, leading to tales of rats swapping jewelry for a stone."

"Pack rat middens, or nests, may preserve the materials incorporated into it up to 40,000 years ago. The middens may be analyzed to reconstruct the environment around the midden when it was built, and comparisons between middens allow a record of vegetative and climate change to be built. Examinations and comparisons of pack rat middens have largely supplanted pollen records as a method of study in the regions where they are available."

More information:

Neotoma species, Woodrat (also known as "pack rats", "trade rats")

The Dusky-Footed Woodrat: Resident of California Oak Woodland

Pack rat From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia more about the nests

More about its interesting behavior from Animal Diversity Web

The Visitors gathering for the trek up the hill. Photo by Graham.

What we saw:

Section 1. The Setting

Section 2. Associated Shrubbery

Section 3. Results of Recent Rains

Section 4. Inhabitants and Visitors


original pages created December 6, 2008
text on this page is Copyright © 2008-2021 Jane Strong
images on this page attributed to Karen are Copyright © 2008-2021 Karen Isa
images on this page attributed to Graham are Copyright © 2008-2021Graham Bothwell

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