Pack rats poised to rule the world, outlive humans, cockroaches

Some say cockroaches will outlive man and one day rule the world. Those folks may have never met the pack rat.

Part of pack rat nest/Ryn Gargulinski

These tenacious little beasties, who make their cozy homes all over southern Arizona, have much more going for them than the crusty old cockroach.

For starters, pack rats are much cuter than roaches. People are immediately inclined to squash a cockroach to pulp. A pack rat, on the other hand, rather begs to be petted or fed.

The pack rat is also bigger than the roach, making it possible for the former to eat the latter. That’s Survival 101 right there.

But the real reason the pack rat will conquer the cockroach, and even man and the world, is the rat’s incredible hording skills. They gather enough stuff to last through 10 bouts of doomsday and kingdom come, with a couple of apocalypses in between.

This fact was uncovered firsthand when I finally decided to clean out the yard on the side of my house.

For the past two years or so, the area has been an ever-growing pile of metal table legs, air vents, various ducts, tubes, fence posts, accessories, aluminum sheeting and chunks of random steel debris – things I call art supplies.

Art supply pile - BEFORE/Ryn Gargulinski

Beneath this pile a pack rat’s nest was rapidly keeping pace, growing at much the same rate. Yes, for two years a pack rat’s nest doth fester.

Since I hear my pack rat friend scurry about every morning, and the dogs dig digging around the debris, I figured I’d run into the pack rat himself. I did.

He scampered swiftly out of his nest with the first thrust of my shovel and spent the next few hours careening about the yard, much to the dogs’ amusement.

Digging deep through his nest was not quite as amusing, especially since the entire nest was infused with enough pack rat poop to fuel a nuclear power plant.

Like the rat himself, there were others things I surely expected to find, and did.

These included scraps from the light green lawn chair that sits in the corner with holes chewed out of it, scraps from the aqua blue yard chair that sits in the corner with holes chewed out of it, nibbled palm fronds, gnawed wood slats and jagged pieces of plastic fabric from one of those utterly useless Topsy Turvy tomato planters.

Piles of mesquite bean pods perched atop areas like little roof tiles.

Pack rat nest close up: mesquite pods and poop/Ryn Gargulinski

The next layer of pack rat nest contained stuff that was not necessarily expected but did not come as a surprise. Here we had metal shards, more metal shards, carpet fibers, half a throw rug chewed into fluff, rocks, insects, feathers and a load of plastic plant leaves.

And then came the surprises. The bottom layer of the pack rat nest was lined with things I’d never expect – or even think a pack rat would enjoy. The big three of these were dog bones, dog chew hooves and random pieces of dog poop.

No wonder the dogs always dug by the rat nest. They were not interested in the pack rat, but merely wanted their bones and chew hooves back.

My poor lawn chair chewed by pack rat/Ryn Gargulinski

I also found parts of my metal saguaro wind chimes that went missing in early 2008.

Hauling the four garbage bags packed with the dismantled pack rat nest into the trash did make me feel a bit sad, as if I were destroying a home. Because I was.

But knowing the pack rat, he’ll be bouncing back in a jiffy and has probably already chewed new holes in my lawn furniture. For the rat, it’s just an exercise in persistence.

For humans, it’s one in futility.


Overview of pack rat nest/Ryn Gargulinski

Art supply pile - AFTER/Ryn Gargulinski

Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and Ryngmaster who likes rats of all types, even when they steal my wind chimes. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. Her art, writing and more is at and E-mail


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at
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26 Responses to Pack rats poised to rule the world, outlive humans, cockroaches

  1. Jonathan DuHamel says:

    Pack rats are cute, but destructive. They are also archaeologists. See my story:
    After some pack rats ate the wiring to my air conditioner, which caused an expensive repair bill, I decided enough was enough and got Truly Nolan to trap them. They removed 9 pack rats. That really bummed out a resident rattlesnake. Be careful when rooting around pack rat nests.

    • Rynski says:

      hey jonathan – i was THINKING! of your archeologist pack rat piece as i was cleaning out the nest – def. right on! thanks for link to let others check it out who have not already.
      NINE pack rats? wow-wee. it seems i only have the one hanging around. you had a whole clan going on. sorry to hear about the destruction of air conditioning wires. messing with the AC would be the last straw for me, too. i can handle them stealing wind chime pieces – and they can steal all the dog poo and bean pods they want – but don’t mess with the AC! -hhahaha
      also heard tales of destruction when it comes to vehicle wiring.
      thanks for the careful warning when rooting through nests – but now i can wait another two years or so before i have to conquer that corner of the universe – or at least my yard.

  2. Hugh Holub says:

    Jonahan is right on. A lot of what we know about the climate around here for the last 10,000 years comes from sorting through pack rat nests. Imagine 10,000 years from know what future archeologists will be thinking about what they find in pack rat nests.

    • Rynski says:

      ha! thanks for input, hugh.
      i, too, was wondering what the heck archeologists would have surmised had they tried to put together life as we know it based on the junk i shoveled out of that nest.
      i also wonder what they’ll think when they find my yard art buried deep one day – hahahahah.

  3. Alan in Kent WA says:

    Pack rats must be somewhat smart, as it just took one encounter with Kewpie the Cat for the rest of the Ratones clan to make themselves scarce.  The first thing that we learned (besides it is hot in August in TOP) when we arrived many years ago was to keep a cat.  However, keep the cat away from Wedoitos special herbal weenies for them to keep on top of their game.

    • Rynski says:

      hey alan in kent wa,
      hahahahha! glad your cat was able to catch the pack rats, provided he did not indulge in wedoito weenies, as my dogs are quite lacking in this category.
      well, sawyer doesn’t really care to even run after my resident pack rat. he much prefers treats that come to him, instead of him needing to go to them. and phoebe, well, she barksbarksbarks her warning that she’s comingcomingcoming. doesn’t bode well for catching many wild animals.

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    Why are you doing articles about my former boss and some of my relatives!!?? Rat like-small beedy eyes.

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