- Pack rats have been around as long as possessions have. They sometimes begin by collecting things. They develop more and more collections until their home becomes difficult to navigate. Other pack rats have had this tendency since they were children. As pack rats become adults, they have more opportunities to acquire things and the problem can worsen. Sometimes this develops into a more serious condition.
- Some pack rats simply have a lot of things stored away or a lot of clutter in their homes. Other pack rats are classified as compulsive hoarders. With this level of hoarding, the person may feel afraid when considering throwing away anything. In the worst cases of hoarding, compulsive hoarders even horde their own garbage because they fear throwing it out. They may feel there might be something in it that they can use later, or they may have a phobia about throwing away anything at all.
- Having pack rat tendencies can affect a person's life in many ways. It can make it difficult for the person to find the things she needs. She may waste hours looking for everyday objects in the rest of the clutter. She may also become embarrassed about her home because of the mess. Some pack rats lose portions of their homes to the mess, unable to use their garages, living rooms or bedrooms because the mess makes them inaccessible.
- One of the benefits of being a pack rat is that items can be reused years or even decades after they were first needed. This can be a savings over buying new items that are seldom needed and would have otherwise been thrown away. When the pack rat behavior isn't too severe, the collections of items may bring the pack rat pleasure and provide a pleasant hobby. These collections can also grow in value over time.
- Because pack rats collect so many items, trouble can ensue when the pack rat gets married, has a family or becomes compulsive with his hoarding. Sometimes the health department becomes involved because of the attraction for insects and rodents. Clutter removal is a relatively new industry but one that has been growing rapidly. Home organizers can now be hired to come into the home and talk with the pack rat about what things are needed and which things are causing problems in the home. The clutter specialist can then organize the items that will stay and dispose of the items that will go.