Huge rodent at 10.30 a.m. walked up my garden Around Town, posted by Alice Schaffer Smith, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood, on Dec 12, 2010 at 8:42 pm Alice Schaffer Smith is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
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.
Posted by Denise, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood, 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 homegirl, a resident of another community, on Dec 12, 2010 at 11:02 pm
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 the Green Acres neighborhood, 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 member of the Palo Verde School community, 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 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 yuck, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, 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 anonymous, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, 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 Hilda, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, 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 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.
Posted by Nayeli, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, 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).
Posted by brave, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, 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 Alice Smith, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood, 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 jb, a resident of the Leland Manor/Garland Drive neighborhood, 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 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 the Community Center neighborhood, 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 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 andreas, a resident of the Ventura neighborhood, 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 the Crescent Park neighborhood, 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 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!