Is It a Pack Rat? Also called wood or trading rats, pack rats get their name from their habit of scavenging building materials for their large, elaborate nests. Often confused with Norway rats, they are distinguishable by tails that are fur-covered instead of hairless and scaly. Pack rats have large ears and are typically light in color, but they can also be gray or reddish brown. They vary from eight to 20 inches in length, including a tail that is three to nine inches long. Nesting Habits Pack rats are found in many environments, from hot and dry deserts to rocky mountain slopes and everything in between. They build nests with whatever plant material they can scavenge, creating grand monuments to rodent engineering as wide as four feet across. Popular places for nests include rocky ledges as well as the bases or branches of trees. They are vegetarian and survive on a wide array of plants. Damage Caused by Pack Rats Due to their curious, scavenging nature, wood rats can end up in attics, cabins, sheds, and even vehicle engines. They damage electrical wiring and, living up to their name, pack up and make off with small objects like jewelry, utensils, nails, and screws. They will also rip out the padding of outdoor cushions and pillows to use as lining for their nests. More seriously, the pests can carry diseases, including plague. To rid a property of pack rat infestations, contact the wildlife removal specialists at Critter Control.