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Squirrel? Rat? Chupacabra? Help!!

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  • Squirrel? Rat? Chupacabra? Help!!

    I thought I had a rat (or a 12) in my barn, based on poop size, one blurred, racing sighting of something much larger than a mouse, high up on a purlin, and a nest in a cupboard... but now...I'm not so sure!

    I just came in from night check, and as I was leaving the barn, something caught my eye (dark in barn, using flashlight) high above my head. I have 16+ foot high ceilings. I used the flashlight to pinpoint a creature, sitting on the purlin highest up the wall, next to the big door. Rats DO NOT have furry tails, do they??? This creature had big round black eyes, a russet brown coat, with a creamy tummy, a flat, hairy tail about 3/4 inch wide, a flat-ish face and was perhaps 10" nose to tail (hard to tell, as my perspective was off). Could it be a flying squirrel?? It certainly wasn't a regular squirrel, and it was not like any rat I've ever seen (and our old farm, when I was a kid, had rats one summer). It looked well fed. And shy--it scooted along the board and hid behind the upright corner beam. I'm a bit freaked out--I don't want to poison a squirrel, especially a flying squirrel. But...I really don't want one in the barn, either. Do I? It was very cute, though

    I did a image search on Google, and it kind of looked like a flying squirrel...but kind of not. It seemed much larger than those pictures. What else could it be? Am I in danger? (kidding!) Should I alert the media? (really, kidding!).

    The horses seemed unfazed by all the nocturnal rodent activity, but I doubt a squirrel or rat would really bug them. Maybe the chupacabra...
    Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

  • #2
    Sounds like a packrat! (or wood rat)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pack_rat

    I had one in my barn one evening in Leavenworth - I really had to convince him/her/it to leave - I had heard from a friend that once they move in, they're hard to get out. I had to chase it out of the barn using a broom IIRC, and last I saw it was heading toward a brush pile on my neighbor's property which was fine with me
    I didn't see it again. I didn't want to harm it, but didn't want it to take up residence either.

    ETA: Here's the most likely culprit:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neotoma_cinerea
    Last edited by MEP; Dec. 28, 2011, 03:18 AM.
    www.moranequinephoto.com
    "If I am fool, it is, at least, a doubting one; and I envy no one the certainty of his self-approved wisdom."
    Byron

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    • #3
      Flying squirrel Your description matches pretty bang on.

      Did it look like this?


      Ten inches from tip to tail sounds a little generous...but in a flash it's a good guess.
      =*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*=*
      ~Jilltx~

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      • #4
        I was going to say probably not flying squirrel unless they grow much bigger in your neck of the woods. Here in Va, they are smaller than regular squirrels.

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        • #5
          What about a small weasel?

          They can be nasty little things but they will keep the mouse population at bay.

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          • #6
            Chupacabra. Find yourself a priest, fast!
            Nudging "Almost Heaven" a little closer still...
            http://www.wvhorsetrainer.com

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            • #7
              I was going to say pack rat... but maybe the squirrel too?

              Pack rats are very messy and stinky, IME squirrels are cleaner. Comparatively! I've not known pack rats to be up in rafters as much as under floors and in walls... but I'm no varmit expert either!
              “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

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              • #8
                I think you need to ask your new barn resident to stop and pose for photos.


                Flying squirrel is all I can think of that has a flat tail like that.

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                • #9
                  Sounds like a plain ole squirrel to me.
                  One or two of the little "darlings" set up in our well house every winter for their winter home. We used to try to run them off but back they'd come.
                  We just grin and bear it now.
                  Not near as bad as one year when one built himself a cozy little nest in the air filter on my truck though.

                  Anybody want some squirrels? We've got LOTS of them.
                  You know why cowboys don't like Appaloosas?" - Answer: Because to train a horse, you have to be smarter than it is.

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                  • #10
                    I would say a short tail weasel or pack rat. Both appropriate for your location. The Pack rat more likely

                    Flying squirrel is not common out of the forests here and I have never heard of anyone local discussing their presence in homes.
                    _\\]
                    -- * > hoopoe
                    Procrastinate NOW
                    Introverted Since 1957

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                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Ok, after much googling of images, I've settled on pack rat. Darn, the Chupacabra was a much more entertaining choice. Now....what do I do about him or her? I'm not a fan of killing something that seems fairly harmless, but my barn just isn't an ark, either. Pretty sure Mr. PR has been dining with the hens, even though I cover their feed at night there must be enough food to keep him happy. He is pretty adorable, if you like rodents.

                      Can I trap one? I hesitate to do so in winter (yes, I'm "one of those people") when releasing him or her will be a bit cruel. Should I be worrying about disease? Do they carry Hanta Virus?
                      Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

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                      • #12
                        We have trapped a Packrat in a small live catch trap. He was taking up resident in my sister's house so had to go. I relocated him to the woods well away from any buildings. They are adorable critters but very messy and stinky.
                        Patty
                        www.rivervalefarm.com
                        Follow us on facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/River...ref=ts&fref=ts

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                        • #13
                          Can't be a chupacabra. They are natives of Puerto Rico and do not adjust well to wet, cold climates at all.

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                          • #14
                            Packrats really aren't the same as regular Wood or Norway rats as far as disease/destruction. PLEASE don't poison it. Oust the nest (assuming it's not currently full of young) & try other ways of discouraging further habitation.

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Mildot- I was sorely disappointed after researching it, that the elusive Chupacabra is not inhabiting my big red pole barn. What a coup that would have been! Think of all the nice money I could have earned for my horse fund, selling my story to the tabloids.

                              Bacardi- Oh, no worries on the poison front. My cats have brought live moles in the house two times, and I've scooped them up and released them. Mr. CC thinks I'm a soft-hearted idiot. I just struggle to kill things simply because they're inconvenient. Good thing I feel that way, as I teach 8th grade!
                              Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

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                              • #16
                                I am so disappointed that it is not a chupacabra. My husband is mildly obsessed with them. When I read the title, I thought this may be my big chance to get him interested in a COTH thread!

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