Last year we had a mystery visitor come to our front yard. It had all started when I bought pumpkins and ornamental corn to decorate.
Upon returning from the store, I had haphazardly placed the items outdoors, to be arranged when I had more time.
The next morning on my way out, I noticed that some of the corn kernels had been eaten. The morning after that, even more corn had been eaten. Soon it wasn’t a very attractive decoration.
I thought it might be a squirrel, and decided to surrender the decorations to the creature. Whoever it was, they were obviously enjoying it.
Before all the corn was consumed, we set our critter cam up on a tripod. This is a motion sensitive outdoor camera for recording wildlife activity on our property.
Here’s our mystery visitor: the dusky-footed woodrat.
A nocturnal mammal, woodrats are common in the deserts and forests of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, especially in the west. No relation to the city rats that spread disease.
Also known as pack rats, they are generally solitary and build elaborate nests. More info here.
The one photographed here lives in our wood shed, under a pallet that holds the firewood off the ground…has a good life.
We once kept gloves in the wood shed, to use when splitting and loading wood. But the gloves kept disappearing. Then one day we found all our gloves and safety glasses under the pallet. The woodrat, aka pack rat, loves to collect things, especially shiny things. So now we keep these items in a plastic box with a snap-on lid.
Our camera has a date and time stamp. That night he or she returned to the corn every ten minutes, all night long. I imagine there’s colorful corn kernels under that pallet.
Photo credit: Athena Alexander