Sunday, August 5, 2012

In High Cotton (Rats!)

I had to ask the Refuge biologist to identify these cotton rats. They were noticeable by their numbers in the grass near the boat ramp.

 I am not a fan of rodents, but these guys were pretty cute. 

They have long, black tails that appear almost hairless.

The one above has a notch in its ear.

I read that cotton rats can be found in a variety of locations. Their name comes from the fact that they line their nests with cotton. I assume these use cat tail fluff, as there is no cotton in the salt marsh.

I was interested to read that they often have large litters (up to 15) and reproduce often, beginning at the tender age of a mere four weeks! One nest may be used by several generations at the same time. With a lifespan of only about 6 months, I guess there is no time to waste. 

Cotton rats can be quite destructive to crops, but are also known to eat carrion, insects, and eggs and baby animals. They can contribute to the decline in numbers of quail.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

They are sort of cute.