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Defeating Pack Rats: Proven Tips for Success

Pack rat in a cactus pack rat nest
Pack Rat

Identifying Pack Rats and Their Nests

Pack rats are a common desert animal. If you live in Arizona for any length of time, you'll eventually run into one or see a pack rat nest. Pack rats are also known as wood rats. They live in our urban desert near homes and in our residential communities. They may be cute but they are notoriously destructive. They're busy little rodents that love to collect and hoard shiny objects.

Pack Rat Nests

Desert pack rats often build their nests in prickly pear patches. This is because it makes it difficult for other animals to attack them in their thorny cactus nests. The nests are made in the center of the prickly pear patch and consist of prickly pear pads, cholla, twigs, leaves, paper, soda cans, and other trash. These nests can be in one small patch of cactus or extend into a large area of cacti with many pack rats occupying the area. Recognizing and removing pack rat nests early is essential to keep pack rats from causing damage to your homeowners association community, home, or vehicle.

Desert pack rat nest in prickly pear cactus
Pack Rat Nest

Pack Rat Damage

Damage from pack rats is most often found outside homes and in community common areas. They chew wires and may make a small nest in a car engine, irrigation valve boxes, or air conditioning unit. The damage can be extensive and cost thousands of dollars to repair. They may also get into garages and storage rooms and set up nests. Another problem with pack rats is that they are carriers of diseases.

Getting Rid of Pack Rats

Keep them away by keeping them at bay. If you see a pack rat nest, remove it as soon as possible. Seal the entry points into your home, garage, and storage area to keep pack rats out of your home and be especially aware of areas around utility lines. Don't leave food or food wrappers in your car. The smell attracts pack rats. There are humane traps that can be used to remove pack rats and relocate them to the desert but the nests must be removed after the pack rats are gone.

Removing Pack Rat Nests

Manually remove pack rat nests with a shovel and pitch fork and clean up the area after the nest is removed. Add an animal deterrent such as Critter Ridder, which has a pungent odor that pack rats dislike. Keeping the area clean is important because pack rats will return if the nest is not completely removed. And rattlesnakes like to take up residence in abandoned pack rat nests. If they are still a problem after you have taken all the above steps, it's time to call a professional. Work with your landscaping company to identify and remove pack rat nests as they are seen. And use a professional pack rat removal service like Mr. Pack Rat if you or your community is in a natural desert area with a lot of pack rat activity.

We live in a beautiful and unique desert environment that is inhabited by many animals. So, we must keep a delicate balance between nature and humans. Pack rats will always take advantage of our urban desert areas. Keep them in check with these tips and enjoy your outdoor spaces. Call us at (520) 546-2994 if we can help you remove the pack rat nests in your community or around your home.

Article by:

Deborah Munoz-Chacon


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