Don Linzey & Christy Brecht
Wytheville Community College
Wytheville, Virginia 24382
Last updated: 26 November, 2005
Adult total length: 14 - 17 in. (350 - 425 mm)
Tail: 6 - 8 in. (150 - 200 mm)
Hind foot: 1 3/8 - 1 5/8 in. (35 - 40 mm)
Weight: 7 - 12 3/4 oz. (200 - 365 g)
- Adult total length:
14 - 17 in. (350 - 425 mm)
6 - 8 in. (150 - 200 mm)
- Hind foot:
1 3/8 - 1 5/8 in. (35 - 40 mm)
7 - 12 3/4 oz. (200 - 365 g)
The fur of the Allegheny woodrat is brownish-gray with black-tipped hairs.
The throat, belly, and feet are whitish. The eyes are large, the ears are
large and sparsely haired, and the vibrissae are long.
left lateral view of
skull and mandible
dorsal view of skull
ventral view of skull
Allegheny woodrats range from southeastern New York southwest through much of
Pennsylvania, extreme southern Ohio and Indiana, through western Maryland, all
of West Virginia, most of Kentucky, and the western reaches of Virginia and
North Carolina south through much of Tennessee, and into northern Alabama and
most of northwestern Georgia (Whitaker and Hamilton, 1998).
||Mice, rats, squirrels, etc.
||Murid rats and mice
Woodrats are most often found in caves and rocky cliffs, but may also be found in
wooded bottomlands, swamps, and in outbuildings and abandoned structures.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park:
Several woodrats have been found living in the rocky cliffs and
fissures near The Sinks on the Little River. Many individuals and
their nests have also been discovered in and around old buildings
in the park. This species occurs from the lowest elevations up to
- Blount Co.:
Abrams Creek Ranger Station (900 feet); Cades Cove; Happy
Valley Ranger Station; Little River between The Sinks and
the park boundary; Tremont CCC Camp (1,925 feet).
- Sevier Co.:
Vicinity of The Sinks bridge (1,450 feet, 1,565 feet); Sugarlands
(1,800 feet, 2,000 feet).
- Haywood Co.:
Big Creek (1,600 - 1,750 feet); Cataloochee (2,500 feet).
- Swain Co.:
Chambers Creek, 1.5 miles above Fontana Reservoir;
Woodrats construct a football-sized nest of shredded bark and grasses which
is covered and surrounded by a pile of sticks and twigs that may be up to
nine feet in diameter and four to five feet high. The debris heap may consist
of eight to ten bushels or more of material. Most nests are on the ground,
but near Chambers Creek a woodrat was frightened from a nest located 10 feet
above ground in a dense growth of privet (Stupka, 1961
). A nest found at Abrams Creek Ranger Station on September 13 contained a
nursing female and two young approximately 10 days old. Nursing females have
also been taken on April 24 and on August 14. A half-grown individual and two
very small immature specimens were collected at Big Creek between October 1
- 4 1950.
Several litters consisting of two to four young are produced from spring to
fall. Following a gestation of about 35 days, a litter averaging two young (
range 1-4 ) is born. Females may produce several litters annually. Newborn
young have their eyes and ears closed and are sparsely covered with hair. The
eyes open during the third week. Weaning usually occurs between three and four
weeks of age. Females probably do not breed until they are one year old.
Woodrats have survived at least 45 months in the wild (
- Terrestrial Ecology
Woodrats are primarily nocturnal and are active all year. Their senses of
smell, sight, hearing, and touch are well developed. "Drumming" has been
observed in this species and serves as a warning or alarm note.
Food consists primarily of fruits, berries, nuts, seeds, bark, and grasses.
Individuals taken in October in the park were found to have fed on pokeweed
berries (Phytolacca sp.). A dead woodrat found along the Little River
Road in October had a 2-inch sprig of poison ivy (Rhus radicans) with
berries in its mouth (Linzey, 1995b).
- Predators and Defense
Owls, bobcats, foxes, and weasels are probably the most important predators.
Eight woodrats examined in the park during October 1950, were infested with
fleas. Fleas have also been found in several nests (Linzey,
Links to Other Sites
- Special Protection Status
The Allegheny woodrat has been designated as a species of
"State Concern" in North Carolina. It is listed as threatened
or endangered by several states.
- In Park:
All plants and animals are protected within Great Smoky
Mountains National Park.
Collection requires a permit which is usually granted
only for research or educational purposes.
- Map development
- Web page design & coding
- Denise Lim, University of Georgia, Athens
- John Pickering, University of Georgia, Athens
Hayes, J.P. 1999.
Allegheny woodrat. Pages 607 - 608. In: D.E. Wilson, and S. Ruff (eds.).
The Smithsonian Book of North American Mammals. Washington, D. C.:
Smithsonian Institution Press.
Linzey, D. W. 1995a.
Mammals of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Blacksburg,
Virginia: The McDonald & Woodward Publishing Company, Inc.
Linzey, D. W. 1995b.
Mammals of Great Smoky Mountains National Park-1995 Update. Journal of
the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society 111(1):1-81.
Linzey, D. W. 1998.
The Mammals of Virginia. Blacksburg, Virginia: The McDonald &
Woodward Publishing Company, Inc.
Mengak, M.T. 1997.
New field records for longevity in Allegheny woodrats (Neotoma
magister). Banisteria 10: 27-28.
Stupka, A. 1935 - 63.
Nature Journal, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 28 vols. (years)
each with index. (Typewritten copy in files of Great Smoky Mountains
National Park library).
Whitaker, J.O., Jr. and W.J. Hamilton Jr. 1998.
Mammals of the Eastern United States. Ithaca, New York: Comstock
Wiley, R.W. 1980.
Neotoma floridana. Mammalian Species No. 139: 1-7. American
Society of Mammalogists.
Last modified: 8 May, 2002