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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

Southern Plains Woodrat: 15 Facts You Won’t Believe!

Find southern plains woodrat facts about this species of rodents that is found in many states in the United States and Mexico.

The southern plains woodrat (Neotoma micropus) is a species of rodent found in northwest Mexico and the United States. They are also found in New Mexico in the US. Like all other woodrats, southern plains woodrats are actually large mice. These mammals can be easily distinguished from other species in the family of mammals by the soft gray fur on their upper parts and their black-colored hair. This species of woodrats is usually nocturnal and they are very active at night. Only the young juveniles have been spotted out and about during the daytime.

The eastern woodrat (Neotoma floridana) is found in the central and eastern United States and has the same features and habitats as the southern plains woodrat. They are only divided by their distribution all over the country.

The woodrat has over 20 different species found in the world. These medium-sized mammals are found in Central and North America. Read some more fun facts on other ground-dwelling animals like the eastern rat snake here on Kidadl.

Southern Plains Woodrat Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a southern plains woodrat?

Southern plains woodrats are a species from the woodrat family found in the United States and Mexico.

What class of animal does a southern plains woodrat belong to?

The southern plains woodrat (Neotoma micropus) falls under the class of Mammalia in the kingdom of Animalia. They are part of the order Rodentia.

How many southern plains woodrats are there in the world?

The exact population of the southern plains woodrat is not known. There is no danger to the population of these animals currently and their trend of growth is steady at the moment. They are, however, affected by different predators in the wild and in urban areas.

Where does a southern plains woodrat live?

The southern plains woodrat (Neotoma micropus) is found in southeastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, western Oklahoma, western Texas, and New Mexico in the US. They are also found in the northeastern part of Mexico. Southern plains woodrats are not found in the far northwestern part of the state of New Mexico. Other than that, they can be seen in the majority of the New Mexico state.

The habitat range of eastern woodrats and that of southern plains woodrats do not coincide and their habitat ranges are divided by the Arkansas River in western Kansas.

What is the southern plains woodrat's habitat?

They are usually found in dry grasslands. Shrubs and cacti are part of their requirements in their wild habitat. The usual habitat of these rodents consists of cactus grasslands or shrubby and mesquite grasslands. They live in semi-arid plain areas and low valley areas. They can also be found in rocky hillsides, as well as in their usual habitats of timberlands and deserts.

The 'houses' these rodents live in are made below ground usually if all conditions are met. If they are not able to dig these holes, they are found living in rock crevices and trees.

Who do southern plains woodrats live with?

Southern plains woodrats are territorial and remain solitary their whole lives. They are only seen in pairs when breeding. Only one adult is seen living in each nest, which could easily accommodate two of these animals.

How long does a southern plains woodrat live?

The exact lifespan of these animals is not known, but they are known to live for more than two years, with some cases where these woodrats have lived for three and a half years.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding period of the southern plains woodrat is normally in early spring. They mostly produce one litter in a year, but some animals of this species in the south can produce two or more litters in early spring and in late fall. After the gestation period, between one and four young woodrats are born. The gestation period lasts for 33-35 days. Males reach sexual maturity at 10 weeks of age and females at six months. Paternal care is not seen among woodrats.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the southern plains woodrat (Neotoma micropus) is categorized as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List. The species is mostly affected by various predators that hunt these animals.

Southern Plains Woodrat Fun Facts

What do southern plains woodrats look like?

The southern plains woodrat (Neotoma micropus) is a species of medium-sized rats. They have white feet, large ears, dark eyes, and long whiskers. The dorsal side of the adults of the species has a dense and soft coat of fur which is gray-colored. The back possesses some black hairs. The other side of the body, called the ventral side, is gray-colored with a white throat. The tail is dark on the upper side and light-colored on the lower part. The tail is short, heavy, and hairless. These rats in Texas and Kansas are bigger than rats of the same species in other parts of the world. Males and females are colored the same. Adults molt each year while the young molt two to three times until they come of age. Among these animals, females are a little smaller than males, but the difference is minimal.

Riparian woodrats are in the same family of rodents as the southern plains woodrat.
* Please note that this is an image of a riparian woodrat, not a southern plains woodrat. If you have an image of a southern plains woodrat, please let us know at [email protected]

How cute are they?

Rats are usually not considered cute by many people.

How do they communicate?

Southern plains woodrats have the ability to communicate via smell. Male and female woodrats are able to identify the opposite sex just by their smell. They are also sensitive to sound and react to the smallest sound made. This species makes a drumming sound with their hind legs to communicate and to establish authority.

How big is a southern plains woodrat?

The length of the southern plains woodrat has a range of 13.97-14.56 in (35.5-37 cm). Males have an average body length of 14.5 in (36.83 cm) and a tail length of 6 in (15.24 cm). Females, however, are a little smaller with a body length of 14 in (35.56 cm) and a tail length of 5.8 in (14.73 cm).

How fast can a southern plains woodrat run?

The speed of these woodrats is not known. However, they are pretty quick on their feet and react to the slightest sound and movement. Rats generally are pretty fast and can run at a speed of 8 mph (12.87 kph).

How much does a southern plains woodrat weigh?

The southern plains woodrat (Neotoma micropus) has a range of weight varying from 0.39-0.69 lb (180-317 g). The weight of nutria rats, one of the bigger species of rodent, has a range varying from 11-22 lb (5-10 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

Males and females of the species are not given different names. They are simply commonly known as the southern plains woodrat (Neotoma micropus).

What would you call a baby southern plains woodrat?

A baby southern plains woodrat is called a young or a juvenile.

What do they eat?

The southern plains woodrat (Neotoma micropus) primarily feeds on cactus leaves, cactus fruits, berries, mesquite pods, and beans. Their diet also includes acorns and other plant materials. The water content in their body is replenished by the food they eat. They also feed on fruits, leaf blades, and seeds of prickly pears. When in dire need of water, their diet depends on cactus pulp. They start collecting food in late summer and early autumn and are big hoarders. Depending on the season, they gain and lose weight periodically.

There is a range of predators that feed on southern plains woodrats. Some of them are hawks, owls, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, and snakes. Specifically, they are preyed on by the white-tailed hawk, the Harris hawk, barn owls, raccoons, and western rat snakes.

Are they dangerous?

The southern plains woodrat is not dangerous to human beings, but they are related to a lot of illnesses. They become hosts to a lot of parasitic bugs. The kissing bug which carries the Chagas disease is carried by this rat species and can transfer to humans. Sandflies that carry a lot of diseases interact with both humans and this rat species.

Would they make a good pet?

These southern plains woodrats are not considered pets. They prefer living in their natural grassland habitats in the wild.

Did you know...

Small rodent species such as rats, mice, and gophers, burrow holes into agricultural lands and destroy crops and plants. They feed on various kinds of crops destroying the produce with their feces and saliva.

They are not considered endemic but are found exclusively in the United States and some parts of Mexico.

Southern plains woodrats (N. micropus) have large ears, dark eyes, a dark tail, long whiskers, and white feet.

Where are woodrats found?

The range of the southern plains woodrat (Neotoma micropus) is distributed quite extensively. These woodrats have a range that goes north into southeastern Colorado and southwestern Kansas. The range then extends through western Oklahoma, and Texas west. They are also found in northeastern Mexico. Among many states in the US, the habitat of southern plains woodrats can be found in Colorado, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.

Do woodrats live in houses?

Woodrats are known to live in houses sometimes, similar to roof rats. Woodrats are sometimes found in porches, inside sheds, in attics in hard-to-reach walls, and in ceilings. In this regard, they are quite similar to house rats we might see in our houses. But, in general, these animals called woodrats are mostly seen in their natural habitat in the wild and they make their own 'houses' in the ground near shrubs or cactus plants.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals from our tamandua facts and Masai giraffe facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable southern plains woodrat coloring pages.

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