Friends of Kootenay Blog

Access stories and photos about the natural and human history of Kootenay National Park and Columbia Valley Includes highlights about the Friends of Kootenay National Park activities and programs.

 

Missing Your False Teeth?

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Pack rats are on the move this time of year as the young disperse, looking for winter residents.
Photo by Larry Halverson

The bushy-tailed wood rat, more commonly know as a pack rat, derived its name from its compelling desire to collect all sorts of small articles, especially shiny objects. There have been instances where pack rats have taken money, diamond rings and even false teeth. The items stolen are often replaced with useless things such as twigs or pebbles. Occasional they will trade valuable objects. According to one tale "a pack rat left some gold nuggets on the table in a prospector’s cabin in exchange for some trivial trinkets." 

I once came across a pack rat’s treasure cache in an old shed. There wasn't any gold or diamonds but it did contain an assortment of unusual items: tin pie plate,  coat hanger, 2 combs, nylon binder twine,  fly trap, 2 metal brackets,  gasket, 12 wood screws, horse hoof trimming, piece of leather harness,  plastic bottle cap, buckle, cardboard,  rock, wooden dowel, 4 Douglas fir cones and 2 freeze wrappers. From the list it seems that bushy tailed wood rats are much like people in their habit of bringing home useless junk, but then I should talk. I’m sure my garage would be the envy of any pack rat!
 

A large pack rat nest in the historic Earl Grey Cabin, located in the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy
Photo by Larry Halverson