Okay if you have a rodent thing, turn back now!
But first, tell me this isn't cute...
That, my friends, is a pack rat.
I had never actually seen one before (a good thing, by all accounts), so I made the assumption they were something akin to sewer rats, and not at all like the lovable pet rats you can purchase at pet stores.
I mean look at that little face!
Who could guess that sweet mug could be hiding such a destructive little bugger?
TR was telling me all about them yesterday (having encountered them up in the mountains), and they are really very fascinating creatures.
Apparently they've been around for absolute ever, too. They found a pack rat "midden" (what their dens are called) in New Mexico that was over 1,000 years old! But that's nothing, really.
They found one they were able to date to the Pleistocene Era. That would be 2.5 million to 12,000 years ago.
That's some old pee, but more importantly, think of the science!
According to the Wiki entry:
"The middens may thus be analyzed to reconstruct their original environment, and comparisons between middens allow a record of vegetative and climate change to be built. Examinations and comparisons of pack rat middens have largely supplanted pollen records as a method of study in the regions where they are available."
"The resilience of the middens is due to three factors. The crystallized urine dramatically slows the decay of the materials in the midden. The dry climate of the American Southwest further slows the decay, and middens that are protected from the elements under rock overhangs or in caves survive even longer."
Things you never knew.