Halloween Mystery Visitor

Outdoor decorations. All the corn has been eaten. Photo: Alexander

Ornamental corn: notice all corn kernels have been eaten.

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.

 

Mystery visitor: Dusky-footed Woodrat

Mystery visitor: Dusky-footed Woodrat

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

 

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54 thoughts on “Halloween Mystery Visitor

    • That’s a question we often ask our loved ones who collect too much stuff, too. I am happy you enjoyed the post, Bertie — and I always appreciate your visits and comments so much. 😀 😀

  1. My parents get them all the time. Sometimes they leave something in trade. Mom lost a pair of garden scissors one night, and found a neatly trimmed flower in the exact spot she left it. The old west is full of stories about them, like a pack rat nest that holds a few gold nuggets. Some of their nests are so old science has taken an interest. Bits from extinct creatures have been found in their depths.

    • That camera is so fun! We have it on a trail and move it around. We originally bought it thinking (hoping) there might be a mtn. lion. It’s been about 4 yrs, no mtn lion, but lots of critters come by, including a bobcat regular. It sounds like you may have one, they are great. Thanks Shannon! 😀

      • We don’t, but we really should as we are getting some rare wildlife here with the destruction of surrounding woods. ((Sad face)) My dad uses one at his waterer. One of his cutest moments were coons taking a dip. They climbed into the tub like it was a spa! So fun.

  2. Your mystery visitor and your packrat story had me on the edge of my seat from the beginning,dear Jet!The little critter had well organised its corn party and (s)he enjoyed it undisturbed throughout the night.(S)he is an ardent collector and a great constructor as far as I can see.If you could put your critter cam in her/his elaborate nest,you could spot piles of treasures.Funny little creature,gripping the story you shared with us,dear friend!Wishing you a fun Halloween filled with magical surprises 🙂

    • We often have the camera on trails at about knee height, so ankle-high creatures don’t get captured. But with the goal in mind to see who was eating the corn, it gave us new insight. So glad you enjoyed the post, dear Doda. FYI Originally I had the pronoun as “he” but I changed it to include both genders (per your influence) — smiled to see your “(s)he” version. I work all day every day on writing stories, albeit much longer ones, so I was happy you recognized the story-writing in this post. I have read there isn’t much Halloween celebrating in Greece, is that correct? 😀

      • I know,it’s a bit confusing with the genders,we’ve discussed it again.I hate using “it”,I find it so impersonal and “cold” for our wonderful friends.All you posts,even the ones which have only an image and just a short illustration,display your storytelling ability and your writing skills,dear Jet.

        As for Halloween in Greece,you have aright read that it is not celebrated.Instead,we celebrate a similar event,the Carnival, which takes place before Lent in the Greek Orthodox Church.It is called Apokries, and it’s customary to dress up and have fun,much like Halloween.Young people enjoy it more by dressing up and calling anonymously at the houses of friends and neighbors,who try to guess their identities and also offer them some special treats,cakes,homemade sweets and pies.I’d also like to mention that it dates back to antiquity and the worship of the God Bacchus,or Dionysus,God of wine and celebrations in the Eleusinian Mysteries.However,it is mostly a religious holiday that includes more than that and it has to do with the purification of soul and body.But,let’s stick only to the similarity of dressing up and having fun … 🙂

      • Apokries does sound similar to our Halloween. I very much enjoyed hearing the origin and tradition of it, dear Doda — thanks so very much. Have a wonderful weekend! 😀

    • Yes, every once in awhile I hear him under the pallet. We have an agreement, he stays away from our house, and we stay away from his house. 😀 Thanks so very much Inese!

  3. We had an episode with a wood rat on our last night of the SW trip. I’m not sure I’ll post it, or not. Eric ended up clobbering it because he (she?) would simply not be discouraged and kept rustling around under the hood of the van. E was afraid that the rat might chew through some wires and leave us stranded. But they ARE cute little buggers.

  4. Great story! Who knew there was a real creature named “pack rat.” We catch great photos on our trail cam. We move the camera around so get a variety of wildlife….including me going to the chicken coop, or Bill mowing the lawn, or the neighbor walking her dog. We have one squirrel who is curious about the camera and his little hands and face are sometimes seen gripping and looking right into the lens.

  5. This is a fun post Jet, creatures of the wild can unintentionally be charming in their daily life. At home I thought I had one because every time I left my dessert to eat it later in the kitchen, it disappeared ! Found out the culprit to be a 5 years old little rat named Tyler! (My son) I didn’t use a camera for this! 🙂 Thank you my friend!

    • I like your summary pc! A very resourceful woodrat. So glad you enjoyed the post, pc. This year the decorations stayed indoors, but I’m sure he or she has plenty to eat. Thanks so much for stopping by. 😀

  6. Oh I would love to have a motion sensor video. This summer we battled squirrels trying to move in. They also became masters of making off with items from the yard which required moving large stones holding down said items. Would have loved to have captured the action.

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