Nature Notes

Volume XVII - 1951

Pack Rats
By Philip Ross, Ranger-Naturalist

young pack rats
"The youngsters...had dainty pink noses and feet."

The naturalists had been annoyed by an unknown nightly visitor to the Information Building during the month of July, that left disorder in its wake. The flowers so carefully arranged for display were chewed off and scattered in distant parts of the room. Traps in numbers were set for the villain, but they were untouched during the night. Tidbits of cheese, candy, peanut butter, even the flowers so avidly stolen from the display table would not entice the pilferer to his capture.

The end was sudden; a female pack rat was discovered in the wood pile on July 31 and was quickly dispatched. But this did not make an end of the episode. The next morning, upon opening the building, we heard hungry squeals coming from above. Upon investigation, the rat's nest was found upstairs and within it four babies. The heterogeneous components of the structure included four of the traps that had been set out, two large signs used on the self-guiding nature trails, bits of rocks, paper and wood. The interior was snugly lined with fur from the mother and small pieces of newspaper.

young pack rats
"They were fed cream sweetened with syrup through a medicine dropper to which they clung with eagerness."

The youngsters, only two or three days old, with pelage still matted, had dainty pink noses and feet. The eyes had not yet opened, nor did they open during the next three days of pampered but forced residence at Park Headquarters. The young measured two inches in length with naked tails about three-quarters of an inch long. They were fed cream sweetened with syrup through a medicine dropper to which they clung with eagerness. A small feeding was required at least every half-hour, but my maternal efforts were insufficient to sustain the delicate thread of life within them. After all, they had endured a long day's hunger when mother had made her demise.

The flowers now remain undisturbed on the display table during the night. No longer need the naturalists go afield each morning with vasculum under arm in search of fresh blossoms to show park visitors. The benefits of the nocturnal rearrangement and disposal have come to an end, but another yarn has been added to the many involving this character of prankish caprice.

Muskrat Record
By Dr. C. F. Yocom, Ranger-Naturalist

On August 8, 1951, I found an adult muskrat on the park highway four miles north of the South Entrance. Apparently it had been hit by a car as it was attempting to cross the road. As Annie Creek nearby has cut a deep canyon with sheer walls, it seems quite unlikely that the animal was making that creek its home. Muskrats are known to rove or migrate considerable distances in the fall. Possibly this individual was in search of a new home.

Crater Lake view
On a sparkling winter's day

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