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Small Mammals of North Dakota

Bushy-tailed Woodrat

Neotoma cinerea


JPG-Bushy-tailed Woodrat GIF-Range Map
Bushy-tailed Woodrat
Range Map

The bushy-tailed woodrat is mostly a species of the western mountains but can be found in the badlands of southwestern North Dakota in areas of rock and sandstone outcroppings. They are large, handsome rodents measuring about 14 inches in length including the 6 inch tail. Adults weigh a little over half a pound.

Woodrats can be identified by their large ears and bushy tail. The back is pale grayish brown with a black wash. The sides are lighter brown and the belly and feet are white. The tail is grayish brown on top and white below.

Bushy-tailed woodrats, also commonly referred to as "packrats," are found in areas that have rocky or sandstone outcroppings. They also may be found in buildings or old foundations in close proximity to these rocky areas. They build large stick houses within the cracks, crevices, and caves among these outcroppings. Houses may contain many other items carried in by the rats including feathers, pieces of wire and glass, pine cones, shingles, cardboard, bits of rope, and even plastic shotgun shell cases-hence the name pack rat. Houses protect them from the weather, predators, and other packrats.

This species is active year round primarily during the night. They feed on the leaves of shrubs and flowering plants, pine needles, fruits, and seed heads. Breeding season occurs during warmer months and 3-4 young are born after a 5 week gestation period. When young leave the nest, they find their own home and live a solitary life. Adults live 3 to 4 years and are preyed upon by owls, coyotes, weasels, and bobcats.

JPG-Bushy-tailed Woodrat Habitat
Bushy-tailed woodrats prefer areas in rather rough terrain composed of sandstone or rock outcroppings in southwestern North Dakota.

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