Allegheny Woodrat   RAT
Scientific Name:
Neotoma magister
Other Names and/or Listed subspecies:
Appalacian Woodrat
Status/Date Listed as Endangered:
NT-IUCN: 2008
Area(s) Where Listed As Endangered:
Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia

The Allegheny woodrat is a relatively small rodent about the size of a squirrel and looks the same as the brown rat. Its body is covered with a soft brown coat of fur, and its back is brown to gray in color. Its underside is white all over and its tail is also covered with fur but may be lighter at the tip. The Allegheny woodrat has whiskers on its face which are relatively long. It is known to be gray in color when younger and tends to turn brown as it ages. It is indistinguishable from the eastern woodrat with the only difference between them being the presence of a structure in the the skull of the Allegheny woodrat which is not present on the skull of the eastern woodrat. Both sexes are alike.

The Allegheny woodrat is primarily herbivorous and feeds on several types of leaves, seeds, fruits, and fern. It is mostly known to love foods rich in fungi. It is known to live in areas that lack vegetation cover that are rocky such as cracks in rocks, cliffs, rocky outcrops, talus slopes, and boulder fields. It also frequently visits forested areas around its habitat to look for food. The species is known to live in high elevations above sea level, and it is mostly found in the Appalachian Mountains. Breeding takes place in April and May. The female gestates for about 28 to 40 days after which a litter of two to three young are born in a ball-like nest. The young are weaned in one months time and reach sexual maturity before one year.

The Allegheny woodrat has a number of threats which poses a challenge to its existence. These threats include widespread deforestation and fragmentation of habitat which was seen as the initial cause of decline, elimination of dispersal corridors, elimination of travel corridors, population isolation, infestation by parasites, especially the raccoon roundworm, and mining of coal and lime among others. However, the true cause of its continued decline is not yet known. The Allegheny woodrat population is believed to have reduced by about 30% as seen by the reduction of its historical range. The current population is estimated to be just over 100,000 individuals. Allegheny woodrats in the Great Smoky Mountains national park, Deam Nature Preserve in Indiana, and Falls Ridge have received some protection. More conservation actions are needed to stop the reduction of this species. Surveys to help in determining status and trends may be helpful.

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Copyright Notice: This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Allegheny woodrat".

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