Florida Wood Rat: (Neotoma Floridana)
Florida wood rats (neotoma floridana), commonly known as the pack rat and eastern wood rat; is a member of the cricetidae family. They average between 7 to 10 inches long with its tail being similar in length, weighing between 9 to 16 ounces, although the males are usually larger than the females.
The Florida wood rats body is short and stocky with soft fur, that is a grayish – brown in color. Its under – parts are a pale white or grayish white. Its tail is bi-colored, the color pattern consists of a dark brown on the top and white on the bottom. Their eyes are large, round and black in color and appear to bulge. They have 4 clawed toes and a thumb on their front paws and 5 clawed toes on their back paws.The Florida wood rat is native to the central and eastern United States, which includes Florida. They prefer to inhibit areas such as marshes, grasslands, forests, swamps, and abandoned structures.
Florida wood rats primarily consume grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, stems, fungi, leaves, roots, bark, wood, and oak acorns.
Florida wood rats are mainly nocturnal, spending most of its day sleeping, but some activity may occur during the late afternoon. They are also solitary and very territorial. They have extremely good hearing and smelling scenes. They are very aggressive towards other wood rats, fighting any intruder by jabbing it with its head and front paws. They are excellent climbers and are capable of running. Florida wood rats create large dens called middens using any available materials that consist of sticks, bones, rocks and manure. They usually use the midden for life, however they will use these dens temporarily. Only one wood rat will occupy the den at a time, with the exception of it young. Many generations will use these dens, adding larger sections, extending the den to almost 5 feet. Florida wood rats communicate by sound and movements which include grinding their teeth or thumbing its hind paws.Florida wood rats breed between February to August, however they are capable of breeding year round. The litter sizes vary from 1 to 6, usually averaging 2 to 4 young. Their gestational period is between 31 to 36 days. When the young are born they are immediately attached to the mothers teat and will remain attached to the mothers teat until they are 3 to 4 weeks old.
Florida wood rats are known to carry numerous diseases such as, leptospirosis, tularemia, rat bite fever, salmonellosis and the plague which can be transmitted to humans, pets and livestock. They also carry parasites that can be passed to humans, pets and livestock.
Florida wood rats can damage crops, farms, contaminating livestock feed, left out pet food. They can also cause damage to structures by creating dens in structures, gnawing and scratching on the electrical wiring, plumbing pipes, upholstered furniture, mattresses, causing foul orders from defecating and urinating and in some cases, when their young die. They also tend to carry away or steal bright shinny objects, like jewelry or cooking utensils.