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Ray Eklund 02-13-2016 04:06 PM

Pack Rats... with tails
Tucson, AZ. Gilbert Ray RV Park in the Sonoran Desert. Warm days and cool evenings... Pack Rat Motels.

Camped in the Sonoran Desert has its beauty during the warm days of Winter and another, a visitor looking for a warm spot to rest. Pack Rats.

In 2006 I saw a lot of vehicles at the camp sites that obviously had... engine problems. Some had drop cord lights and others strung Xmas lights... obviously to find their way back to their trailer. (?) And... not knowing why all of these lights under the hoods, I asked.

This was to prevent Pack Rats from climbing onto the top of your warm engine for a comfortable evening. They also like the modern coatings on the engine wiring systems... to eat. We went to Costco and purchased a long string of LED lights and sleep well at night.

If you open your hood in the morning and see Rat droppings... at least leave the hood UP if you have no light(s) to keep them away. Even squirrels like to nest under your engine hood. Our Blue Heelers hear and smell a Rat or Squirrel immediately.

This last trip to Gilbert Ray I walk the Heelers at night carrying a flash light. You know, those 500 to 1000 lumen search lights and was surprised at the movement of Pack Rats among the cacti and stickered bushes. These are not Viet Nam size like cats I have been told about, but these have a body ten inches long +/- with a tail to match. Just do not mention Pack or Rats in the same sentence with women within hearing range...

Some camping used a blinking LED red light under the engine and on top. We had electricity so the long LED bright white light string was excellent. When we are Off the Grid, I am now going to carry some LED blinking something or other. I have found droppings on the air cleaner camped in the west decades ago, before the wiring was part of the rats' menu of alternatives.

Once I had a CAT under the hood, and after starting the engine one morning... it left and never returned.

I had a squirrel climb under our Tundra's hood in Colorado and our Heeler Dingo, took both mud flaps off. The truck was two weeks old from the dealership. The squirrel took off when I opened the hood and was not happy with replacing the two front mud flaps. I bought two "knockoffs" on EBay as the Toyota flaps cost more than both our Heelers, without figuring sales tax.

Maybe moth balls work, if you have no lights, but that smell tends to linger.

We have never had a mouse or rat inside the trailer. When Boondocking the screen door is always secured... closed. The aluminum bottom skin seems to be secured well to the exterior floor.

Pack Rats will get into your Propane GRILL at night as well. Nothing like reusing it in the morning to discover nesting material below the burners. Again... keep it to yourself and when finished... stow in the back of a vehicle.

Sometimes you think of everything and then someone comes up with something else... Pack Rats, Mice, Squirrels, Scorpions in your shoes left outside... it must be a long list.

We have had rattle snakes around our tent in Western Nebraska and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. You know, the prairie rattler about 15 inches which sound like a grasshopper when you get near... your tent. Maybe a sleepless night if you did not zipper it shut and did not shake out your sleeping bags. Snakes are reptiles and also like... warmth at night. In and under your tent.

I take my walking stick, which is a good four feet long, lean forward... if the rattler is coiled or retreating and gently flip them over into the Badlands below. Yes, some will have alternatives like move the campsite, but rattlers are no more interested in YOU, than you are interested in THEM. The Timber Rattlers of New Mexico and Nevada... five or six feet of them... I just might consider moving the camp site a quarter mile for comfort. OK? I am not that crazy, unless the view is nice.

Not because the snake I saw during the daylight, but in the evening and stepping outside in the dark can be a strange introduction for a second time.

Enjoy your camping but be aware that some creatures find your home as comfortable as you find it, as well.

unifreck 02-13-2016 04:44 PM

Have effectively used capsicum (red pepper, hot pepper in flakes, etc.) to discourage insulation eaters from my vehicles. They may be as allergic as I am and they don't have Epi-pens. AEW

Ray Eklund 02-14-2016 10:44 AM

Ed... this may work for Pacific Rats. Rocky Mountain Rats are not as laid back and hot peppers just go well with the latest wire insulation meal...

See you and Jan this August. A formal Rat to Rat introduction will be organized.

KJRitchie 02-14-2016 11:27 AM

Never thought about critters in the engine compartment but then we only camp in the summer and haven't had any issues...yet.

So why do LED lights in the engine compartment prevent critters? They are looking for warm, dark environments.

Do you get snakes wanting to get under the Airstream to get out of the hot sun?


Ray Eklund 02-14-2016 11:50 AM

KJR... we do get a few snakes wanting to travel with us, but relatives can find their own Airstream to travel with us.

Rocky Mountain Rats: dark and warm when evenings get cool to cold for engine visits
Pacific Coast Rats: John Denver, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash music & lights work to chase them off

Snakes... Never encountered any snakes under the trailer, day, night, spring, summer or fall. The largest Timber Rattler's seem to keep in the large boulder walls as they retain heat during the evenings. In Texas they gather in large numbers (denning) in holes along rock walls retaining heat during the Winter.

At night I am more concerned, not having some rats or mice climb up my pant legs, but a six foot timber rattler too lazy to go back from where it was the day before. They are more interested in small lizards, bird nests on low ground and rodents in the rock walls. Good. Let us not encourage them to eat hot dog droppings and buns soaked in mustard... that is for Rats and larger Mammals... you know... bear size.

Missouri is probably more of a field mouse habitat. We caught more Pack Rats in Colorado than mice. Mostly our Heelers catch them. I know, Rat Abuse... but a careless rat is taking some risks in Colorado.

Most of the Rats I know, prefer the outdoors to the interior of our trailer. I do not bother them if they do not bother me.

mojo 02-14-2016 12:07 PM

In the high country of the Rockies and Sierras, you need to be aware of bears, but also marmots. While camped at the Silver Queen near the Maroon Bells @ 8,500', marmots had attacked one campers car chewing open a brake line, the radiator hose and several other wires. Apparently the marmots are not affected by the toxic antifreeze. Anyway this poor fellow was stranded.

I also noticed that other locals had stretched chicken wire around their vehicles. They informed me that this is not uncommon. Anyway, I guess marmots don't like the taste of German cars as they did not bother my Touareg.

unifreck 02-14-2016 01:33 PM

During the Southern California wildfires several years ago, the Japanese car wiring was a favorite diet for rats, mice, etc. Cost the insurance companies (RATEPAYERS) a lot of money for new wiring harnesses as apparently the Japanese vehicles insulation is made with a vegetable based material. I guess that makes sense, they would be LEFT COAST VEGANS. AEW

Ray Eklund 02-14-2016 01:36 PM

Oh great... something else to feed while camped. Thanks mojo.

That reminds me. It might have been Tin Cup, Colorado. An old mining town pretty much for tourists, but non the less... there had been mining in the area.

Across from the assemblage of various rustic wood buildings are the.... chipmunk feeding grounds. Yes... you bring food to feed the chipmunks. Once one shows up, you will have them jumping all around you, on you and eating out of your hand.

The youngest daughter, still curious pre-teen had taken one of our rock collecting five gallon buckets, a pair of leather gloves and something to attract these numerous cute creatures. A catch and release chipmunk experience.

A chipmunk would try to tug the morsel out of the fingers, to find themselves inserted into a five gallon white plastic bucket. That was the catch part.

The release was when the bucket was leaned over... these guys were anxious to get out and back to begging for more. For young kids... this must be better than Disney World. I was interested in the rusty stuff hanging everywhere, secured from those with a magnetic hand and empty vehicle.

Tin Cup, Colorado a Ghost Town. One of those places in Colorado where... "I see the dump, where is the town?" kind of place. The dump is the town, but of course, I am trying to get you interested and supporting those ghosts who remain and feed the "catch and release" chipmunks. The word dump is meant to be an attention getter. Like a motel missing doors and windows, out door rest-a- room sheds, etc., kind of place.

Have chipmunks at St. Elmo, Colorado, as well. Again... "I see the dump, where is the town?". But that is why these places remain so popular.

You will enjoy visiting these places. Colorado has plenty of these 19th century gold mining and placer gold towns in the mountains. Aspen is the biggest where there is more gold worn by residents today, than paving the streets of gold at this... Ghost Town. There you can feed the residents waiting for John Denver to write more songs about the area. I miss John Denver. I do not miss Aspen...

Tincampers 02-14-2016 01:51 PM

I have seen people use the little solar lights used in gardens. Charge them up during the day and put them on your engine at night.

Ray Eklund 02-14-2016 01:59 PM


Originally Posted by mrprez (Post 1749440)
I have seen people use the little solar lights used in gardens. Charge them up during the day and put them on your engine at night.


Mrprez... is coming to Wyoming this year. Great idea. But you ruined my entire business model of selling them to Rat worrysome travelers willing to pay $15 a lamp.

Costco sells a carton of EIGHT solar lights for your garden AND Rat Control, in my example, for $20 a carton. We bought two cartons for our desert landscape in Nevada. They were $30 and discounted $10. No Rats, but now with the Rat Control Thread... do not count on any left since "Mr. know it all" put me out of business.

... and Ed, keep those Toyota wire eating rats at your place.

CDONA 02-14-2016 02:13 PM

How about one of those big buzz worms as a guard against the rat/mice issue?

Toss one on a warm engine for the night, , ,

Ray Eklund 02-14-2016 02:27 PM


Originally Posted by CDONA (Post 1749451)
How about one of those big buzz worms as a guard against the rat/mice issue?

Toss one on a warm engine for the night, , ,

Sedona... caught onto that one real fast. I need to get back to Colorado where I have a ton of work to do and will be busy. Whew.

I will try one of those "big buzz worms" with my wife. Is this something found in Sedona? Is this how you "warm your engine?"

This could get more notice in the Old Airstream thread.

CDONA 02-15-2016 10:37 AM

Just trying to set an example of using the natural way of the world.

Buzz worms = rattlesnakes, and mice are natural prey for them.
Your post had all the players listed but not as a solution.
It just may be the "cure" is worse than the problem?

We are looking for buzz worms now the temps are up, we use a golf club to extract an errant ball from the bushes out here on the desert golf course in Hope Az.

Dingo Girl 02-15-2016 11:27 AM

You can't deny the dingo!!!

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