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Huge rodent at 10.30 a.m. walked up my garden

Original post made by Alice Schaffer Smith on Dec 12, 2010

What I thought was an opossum could not be, it had no hair bristles, pinkish gray skin. It was about 16 inches long with a long tail and a face which was somewhat opossum / guinea pig looking . It was about 5 inches wide all around. It just walked by me and the driver from Sea Scouts and crawled under the fence into the back yard.. I raced inside for my camera but it was gone.

Any clues?

Comments (45)

Posted by Palo Parent, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 12, 2010 at 8:53 pm

Sounds like the "Ghost Possum" is back.


Posted by rat, a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 12, 2010 at 8:59 pm

Probably some kind of mole or rat.


Posted by Denise, a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 12, 2010 at 9:18 pm

Yes. It's a Norwegian Rat. You know, the kind that gnaw on babies in the projects? They can grow to 18 inches long. Web Link

When Greg cleared his wood pile one year, he dislodged some. One moved into our garage. One night, I awoke to the rat on my headboard sniffing and starting to nibble at my wrist. Unbelievable. Quick safe eradication and protection: put cardboard box lids around the house and yard, fill them with used kitty litter. The rats will depart post haste thinking that a predator lives there.


Posted by Dont be concerned, a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 12, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Dont be concerned the black mamba snake will make short work of it ;-)


Posted by Alice Smith, a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 12, 2010 at 10:25 pm

I looked on the Web and the Norwegian Rat isn't big enough and this thing didn't have that type of hair. It was massive.


Posted by homegirl, a resident of another community
on Dec 12, 2010 at 11:02 pm

Alice-
I would suggest you contact either Wildlife rescue or PA Animal services. They probably know exactly what it is and probably have "mug shots" so you can ID your critter.
By the way, what is the connection with Sea Scouts?...I must have missed that nuance, anyhow it may even be one of these.Web Link There used to be a breeder in your area and perhaps one strong evolving feline exists out there.
Interesting about the reference to the Mamba, as that is probably the least circulated urban legend in PA history. Cheers!


Posted by Alice Smith, a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 12, 2010 at 11:13 pm

He delivered my Christmas tree and I was talking to him when this thing walked by. I plan to call the Animal folks in the morning. Thanks. I didn't get the point of the snake remark but thought it was humor.


Posted by Former Palo Verde, a resident of Palo Verde School
on Dec 12, 2010 at 11:14 pm

I remember the great black mamba snake escape. The playground was taped off and kids were not allowed to go out at recess and lunch. There was general panic with media coverage for a few days. No snake materialized and after a few days school got back to normal.


Posted by rat, a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 12, 2010 at 11:33 pm

Animal services will probably tell you to call an exterminator if you want to get ride of a wild rat.

What is "wildlife rescue"? Does a rat really count as "wildlife"?


Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2010 at 4:53 am

Are you sure it wasn't a possum? Wild animals have their own individual looks and don't always conform exactly to a picture. Based on size, I would give it a 99% chance of being a possum. They tend to be attracted to fruit if you have any in your yard. Including fruit in compost piles. And, they can be noisy eaters-- seriously.


Posted by RatFan, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 13, 2010 at 8:46 am

Denise, after reading that article on the Norway rat, all I can say is, "eeww."


Posted by Susan, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 13, 2010 at 8:51 am

How's Greg doing, by the way?


Posted by Dont be concerned, a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 13, 2010 at 9:16 am

Alice,

Black mamba tale can be found here.

Web Link

"I didn't get the point of the snake remark but thought it was humor."

yes, it was a joke. Thats why the ";-)" after the comment.


Posted by Mom, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 13, 2010 at 12:07 pm

We had rats that large sneaking into our attic. I thought they were squirrels because they sounded so huge. The exterminator showed me the carcasses, or I would never have believed it.
In our case, they were sneaking in through the dryer vent, then they had chewed a hole in the laundry room wall for access up the inside wall to the attic. Disgusting.


Posted by yuck, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 13, 2010 at 1:10 pm

i vote for big rat. our former neighbor had an outdoor cat who was a phenomenal hunter. she would keep the neighborhood clear of rats and leave them on a boulder under our tree in the back yard as a "present." not fun to clean up and truly alarming to see how big these creatures would get.


Posted by Rats, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Did you know that rats never stop growing? They get bigger throughout their lives.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 13, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Problem is, whatever it is it will multiply. We used to live in a neighboring city, in a nice, clean neighborhood, and the main drawback was there were indeed Norway rats, opossum, raccoons - I learned they came out of the sewer system. Some lived in a neighbor's tall palm tree ?!
At one point, Santa Clara County Vector Control was an outfit that would help control excessive rodents, but I think their budget was cut way back. Oh, I forgot roaches, hate to mention that one; Vector Control used to bait the sewer drains in the city streets.
I think this area is overrun with squirrels, which are dirty, digging, and likely disease-carrying, and I wish the city would do something to limit their population.


Posted by Kevin, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 13, 2010 at 6:37 pm

It is clear proof of global warming. Those rodents multiply so fast that hidden mutations get expressed almost overnight. I think you should report it to Al Gore...immediately!


Posted by Hilda, a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 13, 2010 at 8:01 pm

Humans certainly are horribly disease-carrying; are we a threat to squirrels? Many wild animals, living in nature as they do, do get 'dirty', living so close to the dirt. Squirrels certainly dig; they bury their acorns to feed their families when supplies are low. Is this acceptable criteria for killing animals?


Posted by Just Wondering, a resident of another community
on Dec 14, 2010 at 8:29 am

How can that animal afford to live in a pricey town like Palo Alto?


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 14, 2010 at 9:43 am

I vote that it was probably a 'possum. Was it very low to the ground? I have seen 'possums w/very little hair on them. Perhaps look at 'possum pics online to see if you find one similar? It sounds pretty brave & also, I know 'possums are mostly nocturnal. I thunk they all look faintly Bart Simpsonish.

Or perhaps it was a bald nutria? Just kidding ;-)


Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 14, 2010 at 10:13 am

Maybe it was just a opossum or raccoon with a skin disorder? Pepeople claim to find "cupacabras" in Mexico and the Caribbean all of the time that end up being some other animal (dog, cat, coyote, javelina, etc...) with a skin disorder (like an extensive case of the mange).

Either way...I wouldn't try to pet it.

:-\


Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 14, 2010 at 11:01 am

It's a PG&E meter inspector checking all those " DUMB " meters....

Just never mind all those exposure rumors, PG&E promises that the meters are safe.....


Posted by brave, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 14, 2010 at 11:08 am

Brave isn't usually an adjective used for possums; at the risk of offending, usually "slow-witted" "unclever" or "not a great conversationalist" spring to mind.

Speaking of PC re: "Yes. It's a Norwegian Rat. You know, the kind that gnaw on babies in the projects? They can grow to 18 inches long." They are "Norway" rats, not Norwegian rats; let's not offend any sister cities and their inhabitants rodents and humans alike. I won't even touch the "babies in the projects" remark.


Posted by Steve C, a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 14, 2010 at 11:28 am

Sounds like a job for a 2nd amendment solution. If that doesn't agree with you, any cat worth his salt will do the job...


Posted by Alice Smith, a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 14, 2010 at 11:44 am

It's tail was too thin to have been a raccoon, howsoever skinned. It was fairly low to the ground, its size was may be 5 inches when measured from top of spine down vertically to its belly. It did appear to have light skin and a tail that was may be 7 inches and fairly skinny. Its face was rounded more like a pig's but not with a long snout. I have gone up to Google Images scanned the images from rats to pigs, guinea pigs, opossum, golden opossum, Norwegian rat, wild mammals, etc. and will walk around with my cellphone in my pocket in case another opportunity arises to see this mystery mammal. That's enough chatter on this, I believe. Thanks for your thoughts.


Posted by homegirl, a resident of another community
on Dec 14, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Perfect! I now have my Halloween costume for next year!


Posted by jb, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Dec 14, 2010 at 4:24 pm

Could it be a nutria? When I was a kid I used to read my mom's magazines. They all had classifieds and there never failed to be an ad: Raise nutria for fur coats.

It didn't pan out, and now the Louisiana bayous and Salem, Oregan, have them in abundance. At Willamette College there is a ritual of taking new freshmen to the movie downtown through the strip park that runs through the city. In the narrow part the freshman finds him/herself in the lead and is the first to confront any that may be out for a meal at sundown. Great fun!

On second throught, maybe not a nutria. The spotter said it was nearly hairless? There is also the African hairless rat that has been imported as a pet. Anyone missing one??


Posted by Rats, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 14, 2010 at 4:49 pm

I doubt this is what you saw, as your beast sounds bigger than this... but another animal I've seen in my back-yard is a vole. Actually several of them. They look like rats but with rounder faces... Kind of cute actually.


Posted by maguro_01, a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 14, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Could a pet gerbil escape or be kicked out and live in the jungles of Palo Alto? Scan the Web for a picture of one.


Posted by Rats!!, a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 14, 2010 at 5:25 pm

Your 'fly' may be open. Please put the rat back in. Also take off your reading glasses.


Posted by Just a suggestion, a resident of Meadow Park
on Dec 14, 2010 at 7:07 pm

I know it was an escaped hairless mink!!!


Posted by resident., a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 14, 2010 at 9:01 pm

Get a rat trap from OSH or Home Depot and bait it with peanut butter. We had a rat in this area about 6 months ago and that did the trick.

This one might be too big, but even if you just injure it, it will make it easier for a cat to finish it off.


Posted by Not a rat lover, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 14, 2010 at 11:18 pm

Do you remember a story in the Mercury News a few weeks ago about 1000 rats being sent up here from the South--FOR ADOPTION!!! The story said they were sent to Andy's Pet Store in San Jose. And get this!! They all came from one pregnant female. Seems they have a short gestation period and can have litters of 20 baby rats. I foresee being overrun with rats. Why was this allowed???


Posted by PA res, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 15, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Santa Clara County Vector Control really do know their stuff, but even with cutbacks, they are a wealth of advice on pest control. I was told by them that even if you get rid of the rats and close up the spaces they got in, you should use a degreaser to clean where they climbed in -- it's kind of like an ant trail to them, and if you don't, they'll work their way in again in that same spot.

Secondly -- get rid of that infernal ivory and those overgrown juniper bushes (rat condos, no, rat metropolises!)


Posted by PA res, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 15, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Eek, that was quite a word slip. I MEANT:


nta Clara County Vector Control really do know their stuff, but even with cutbacks, they are a wealth of advice on pest control. I was told by them that even if you get rid of the rats and close up the spaces they got in, you should use a degreaser to clean where they climbed in -- it's kind of like an ant trail to them, and if you don't, they'll work their way in again in that same spot.

Secondly -- get rid of that infernal IVY and those overgrown juniper bushes (rat condos, no, rat metropolises!)


Posted by EcoMama, a resident of Community Center
on Dec 15, 2010 at 10:38 pm

This is such a fun and funny thread -- so unlike many on here! -- that I wish we could "like" posts, Facebook-style. Thanks for keeping it light for once, Palo Alto! (Though I am sorry to hear about the rat... my neighbor has roof rats, and they look like what's described. Gross, big, and scary!)


Posted by Bob_M, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 15, 2010 at 11:32 pm

Sounds like a free dinner to me ... just cook it low and slow like a stew in a lot of water and wine. Otherwise, it'll be really tough and stringy and taste really gamy.


Posted by Nora Charles, a resident of Stanford
on Dec 16, 2010 at 4:36 am

A few years ago a smallish rat was in the yard, sort of staggering around and disoriented. I persuaded Mr. Charles to capture it (pulling him away from work), and manly man that he is, he wrestled it into a shoe box. We took it to the Wildlife Rescue place on Middlefield Rd. where they treated it (don't know the problem) and lter released it in Foothills Parks.

The irony is that, as Stanford residents, we are not allowed to use that park. But I'm glad "our" rat is.


Posted by Nora Charles, a resident of Stanford
on Dec 16, 2010 at 4:39 am

That second to the last sentence should read "later" released, and "Foothill Park."

And I've got my eyes peeled for that huge rodent!


Posted by andreas, a resident of Ventura
on Dec 16, 2010 at 8:44 am

The cold weather has been great for my cat: she's catching a mouse nearly every day. She goes out through her cat door and hunts mice.

I've never seen a mouse in my backyard, yet she catches one nearly daily. Mice, moles, voles, and yes, rats. She also catches lizards, but their scales are strong, so I take them away from her and release them.

People don't realize so many animals that live in the ivy, bushes, etc. in Palo Alto. There's also raccoons, skunks, and possums, plus the occasional mountain lion.


Posted by Careful, a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 16, 2010 at 2:06 pm

if it was a opossum 10:30 am is pretty odd time. When I worked at animal control in another area, we considered any nocturnal animal(esp skunks) to be rabid if see during the day. We would catch them and test and I'll bet 90% of the time they were rabid. Just be cautious.

It could have possibly been a nutria. I don't think they're wild out here, but maybe we don't know they're here yet(?)
They love to live along jetties where they dig burrows. Louisiana is thick w/ them, so much so that they have roving workers shooting them from the backs of pickup trucks w/ .22 rifles at night time.
I think Mike Rowe did a Dirty Jobs episode w/ them.


Posted by Linda, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 14, 2011 at 11:25 pm

I used to see creatures like this often when I was out running on Stanford campus, they would stand in my path and often not move! I found them terrifyingly bold. Really ugly hairless creatures, like a hybrid between a rat and a pig, with a rat face and a rounded, hairless, piglike body. They could get really large too, and were definitely not rats. I always thought they were possums until I saw those cute pix of possums on the internet.


Posted by Roger H., a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 15, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Look, politicians wander up my walk all the time. I just tell 'em I'm a classic swing voter and will vote my conscience election day.


Posted by Charles, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 1, 2011 at 10:49 am

Alice, this is a very bad sign. As hallucinations go, it's not so unusual, but at your time of life it gives us all concern. Are you drinking again in the morning? Those "Long Island Iced Teas" can
be a double edged sword, you know, if you get my drift. Now if you keep seeing these fuzzy little buggers in the a.m., why don't you try and trap one, and bring it to your next "Citizens for Carter" meeting?
All those other old biddies will get a big thrill out of seeing your
new "pet," and maybe if you all get hungry you can clean and roast the damn thing for dinner! Buck up! A little hallucinating can be beneficial if you have nothing else going on in your "life." Anyway,
Keep up the good work! Sounds like you'll be ready for Dr. House in no time!


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