‘Iipay Aa name: ‘Emallk
Common name: Big-eared woodrat
Scientific name: Neotoma macrotis
Photo courtesy Zack Abbey.
Big-eared Woodrats, or ‘Emallk in ‘Iipay Aa, are adorable small brown mammals with tails the length of their bodies. They love to hide in the chaparral of Silverwood. If you see a massive pile of twigs hidden in the brush, that may be the home of a woodrat. They use their large rounded ears to listen to their surroundings for predators. Common predators for them are large birds of prey and bobcats. When it is safe, they leave their dens and search for food. One of their favorite foods is elderberry, which grows on the blue elderberry tree. Sometimes, they will eat acorns and mushrooms. ‘Emallk were good food for Kumeyaay people. The meat could be preserved with salt or cut very thin and dried in the sun.
Another name for Big-eared Woodrats is Packrats because they will collect shiny objects like coins, nails, bottle caps, and keys. Make sure to check your pockets before you leave! Maybe a woodrat grabbed something shiny from you!