An unusually quiet night on the ranch: the packrats are gone.
I caught them both last night. For the record, dark chocolate and/or dried blueberries are the irresistible bait of choice. I got nowhere with honey on previous nights.
When I came home last night the trap was sprung but I had to look close to see the small shape huddled perfectly still inside the trap. I gathered up some comfort fixings into a big tupperware, transferred the rodent into it for the night, and reset the trap.
The other packrat was not so meek. When he got trapped, he tried to escape so vigorously, it sounded like a tin can was possessed, and it woke me up. Crash! Crash! Blearily I moved him as well, into the tupperware, and went back to sleep.
They went in a cycle all night- a little sleep, a little attempting to escape- squeaking and thumping against the lid of the bin. Then back to sleep….
In the morning they were so cute. I’d put an egg carton in the box, since they seem to like them so much. Both of them were sleeping on top of it, snuggled together with their heads each poked down into one egg cup of the carton. Adorable! Smelly, though. I’m so glad to have caught them.
I bagged up a big chunk of their midden- which is mostly egg cartons, straw, and grape leaves, although I recognized one square of fabric clearly tugged out of my scrap bag. All this and the box of stinky packrats into the truck, and we went on a really long drive up a forestry road.
I set up their new digs first, making a nice egg carton pile in some really dense brush. If I do say so myself, I think it was a much better design than their original. If I were a packrat, I’d be damn psyched about that nest. All ready for the release, I went back to my truck …. just in time to see one of them run over the seat and up into my dashboard!
I didn’t really have adequate swear words for this. I pounded all over the dash to scare him out, started the truck, poked things into the vents, just cursing myself for thinking maybe they needed the lid cracked for some air – stupid! stupid! Not to mention second guessing this whole relocation project. What was I thinking? Look what it comes to. Now I have a packrat holed up in my dashboard- awesome!
I decided all I could do was wait him out. There was no way I was driving anywhere without knowing for sure the damn thing wasn’t in my truck any longer, so I was going to wait until I saw him leave the truck, one way or another. He’d be hungry or thirsty and emerge eventually. So I opened all the doors, started reading a book, and sat by the road, watching and waiting. Sure enough, he came out. He started investigating the truck and peeping out the door, but every time I moved he’d bolt back up behind the steering column. Clearly, that was his safe place of choice.
Finally, he made the big move out of the truck and was scrabbling around under it, but again when I moved to slam the doors, he was faster, and ran back in! Arrrgh! Trapped in a mindgame with a mouse! I then closed all the doors but the one he’d used, and sat still in arm’s reach of it, ready to slam it the moment he exited again.
At last! So that’s how it turned out the shyer packrat was the only one who was delivered directly to Midden II. The energetic one was on his own. It was very gratifying to see “her” tentatively peek out of the tupperware for a while, then scurry directly into the new home, obviously recognizing the smells, and stay there.
I was pretty disappointed to not be able to release them together, after having the good luck to catch them together, especially in the nick of time before leaving home for the weekend. But I set them up not too far from the road, so maybe the dynamic packrat will have found his other half and they’ll be safe and warm tonight. Or not. Maybe they will be filling the belly of some predatory bird, but either way- they’re back in their right place in the world, instead of in my barn.
I’m just glad I was able to move them and set them up with a bit of shelter and food, because I know just dumping them out in the woods would be the same as killing them, and I could have saved the gas. This way, although it may seem excessively caring, feels like I moved them without harming them. Just neutral, which was my goal.
I’m really sorry I couldn’t take pictures of this