Packrats – Woodrats

Actual Size: 14” to 17” long including the tail, which is furry.

Characteristics: Large, grayish-brown with a white or grayish belly.

Habitat: Lives in a wide range of environments, from deserts to mountains and plains. Constructs bulky exposed nests, and may enter attics, sheds, and walls voids of homes. 


  • Also known as “woodrats” or “trade rats”.
  • Construct nests out of sticks, cactus, and other debris.
  • Attracted to shiny bright objects, which they collect and store.


Packrats – Woodrats

Serving Spokane Metro | Coeur d’Alene ID | Post Falls ID | Tri-Cities WA

Packrats are solitary, nocturnal rodents, and are widely distributed throughout much of North America, occurring in the deserts and highlands of the western United States. These rodents are best known for their attraction to interesting, shiny objects. When pack rats encounter a bullet casing, coin, soda can tab, or article of jewelry, they will carry it until they encounter another, more interesting object, leaving behind the old and departing with the new. This behavior also earned them the names “woodrat” and “trade rat.” Packrats occasionally nest in buildings, feeding on available food within the structure, but most often they continue to feed outside. 

Packrat Habitat

Packrats are most often found in pinyon-juniper woodlands, chaparral, and desert scrub plant territories. Their nests are often bulky, exposed, and constructed out of sticks, cactus, and other organic debris. Packrats have been observed moving into homes and other buildings under construction. They are excellent climbers and may find their way into attics, spaces between walls, and rock overhangs. Once inside, pack rats have the same tendencies for gnawing and property destruction as do the more common structural rats and mice. Large stick nests beneath a porch, in a woodshed or attic, are signs of the presence of a packrat. 

Packrat Behaviors, Threats, or Dangers

Packrats can be an important factor in the transmission of certain diseases and parasites such as fleas. They primarily eat green vegetation, twigs, seeds, fruits, acorns, and cactus. Nationwide, packrats are considered a pest of very minor occurrence; however, at times when these rodents access homes, they can create problems by shredding mattresses and upholstered furniture for lining nests. Their role in transmitting disease is considered minor, although dead or dying pack rats should not be handled with bare hands. If you are having an issue with pack rats, it is best to consult a professional pest control company.