What does a pack rat look like? Here is a guide to identifying this rat species.

It’s common for homeowners to be apprehensive over a rodent issue.

Their presence is always a recipe for disaster due to their destructive nature. Apart from diseases spread through their droppings and urine, rats other forms of problems such as structural damage and damage to furniture.

Most times, dealing with a rodent issue will require identifying the type involved.

Pack rats belong to the rodent family and may be confused with other rat and mice species. So, are you suspecting a pack rat invasion?

Here, we’re going to help you distinguish between these rodents and others.

Pack Rat Characteristics

Identifying pack rats depends on your understanding of certain key characteristics. These include their color, size, and behavior. Also, their long whiskers and large eyes distinguish them from other rodents.

The three key features distinguishing pack rats from other rodent types will be further discussed.

  • Color

Pack rats come in multiple species. These species are identified by their colors. So, you might discover these rats with colors ranging from brown, cinnamon, creamy buff, grey, or yellowish-grey.

Usually, their underbelly is light-colored compared to the upper parts of their body.

  • Size

Size gives you an additional feature to tell a pack rat apart from other rodent types. Adult pack rats are about 30 cm long. That’s about 8 inches in length.

Their tails are quite long and makeup about half their body length.

  • Behavior

In terms of behavior, pack rats are known to hoard all sorts of objects (especially shiny ones) in their nests. This is where they got their name from.

Their habit of packing all sorts of items into their nests creates a problem for lots of homeowners.

If you come across a rodent nest having household items such as metallic objects, trash, keys, coins, bits of foil, bottle caps, beer can tabs, or jewelry among others, you likely have a pack rat presence.

Pack rats have a preference for shiny objects as such; nuts or sticks can easily be exchanged for such when they stumble onto such shiny items. Still, on behavior, pack rats are known to be most active at night.

However, they’re not solely nocturnal as they’re active in certain situations during the day.

Their feeding behavior is quite interesting as they do not only depend on food within a building. Packrats will still go about foraging for food outdoors.

Pack Rats Are Large than Most Mice

Why bring up the mice comparison? It’s easy to see why considering the resemblance between pack rats and mice.

However, one key difference is in the size. Pack rats tend to be larger than most mice. The bushy fur of these rats will also help you easily distinguish them from mice.


Do pack rat habitats have anything to do with how they look? Not at all!

However, one of the ways to easily tell a pack rat apart from the rest even without looking at its physical features is by its habitat. While common habitats include buildings, that’s not only where they build their nests.

Pack rats will also readily nest in trees. As excellent climbers, they find trees a possible nesting location.

There are also pack rat species that are ground nesters. They find a suitable location and dig burrows or tunnels where they live. You’re likely to find more than one pack rat in a burrow.

Pack Rat Control

Like most rodents pack rat presence in a home isn’t one to condone.

Most homeowners will seek the quickest solution possible. However, not all such solutions work. The most reliable way of handling a pack rat situation is through the adoption of preventive measures.

Prevention involves clearing your immediate surroundings of firewood. These should be properly stored wherever they are. Consider keeping such wood off the ground and only store enough to use for a few days.

You’ll need to inspect your home for signs of cracks or actual cracks.

However small these cracks are, have those sealed up with appropriate material. You may want to use wire mesh or steel wood material before using any sealants.

When faced with active pack rat infestation, it’s best to seek professional help.

Most times DIY rodent control isn’t as effective as professional control. To have this problem resolved within the shortest possible time, consider seeking for competent help.

Only reputable pest control services should be called for such jobs. One way to know whether a pest management service is reliable is by checking for customer reviews.

This starting point increases the likelihood of finding the right service provider.

Do Pack Carry Diseases?

One of the problems with rodent presence is the diseases they carry.

So, do pack rats also carry such diseases? They do! Pack rats do carry diseases similar to those borne by other rodent types. This includes plague, and leptospirosis.

These diseases are easily transmitted to humans through feces or urine. So, your best bet is to have your home fortified or protected against pack rats and other rodent types.

Treatment Methods Are Similar with Other Rodent Species

Whether you’re dealing with pack rats or other rodent species, one treatment applies to all. Now, you may want to know the type of rodent for purposes of understanding their behavior which is used against them.

Whatever the case, pretty much all treatments used on other rodents species will work on pack rats.

Proper Storage of Food

Pack rats have less incentive to stay in areas with no access to food.

Based on such knowledge, you can improve your food storage strategies. Plus, all food droppings and spills must be cleaned immediately to avoid attracting pack rats.

With proper control measures in place, you’re not only keeping pack rats out of your home but also mice and rats. These preventive measures though simple, provide lasting relief from the destructive activities of all rodent types.

Your Pest Technician Could Be Of Help

Sometimes, you may simply want to satisfy your curiosity by knowing what rat you’re dealing with. When a pro is involved, you only need to ask what rodent specie is causing the damage.

A professional technician will be happy to discuss such with you.

We’ve seen what pack rats look like. Now, there’s no need for guessing as you only need to see one or observe its behavior to understand.

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