Hispid cotton rat

Sigmodon hispidus TAXONOMY

Sigmodon hispidus Say and Ord, 1825, St. Johns River, Florida, United States. Tribe Sigmodontini.


Spanish: Rata de campo; rata algodonera.


Total length 8.8-14.4 in (224-365 mm), tail length 3.2-6.5 in (81-166 mm), hindfoot length 1.1-1.6 in (28-41 mm), ear length 0.6-0.9 in (16-24 mm). Weight 3.5-8.0 oz (100-225 g). Pelage is grizzled with blackish or dark brownish hairs. Under-parts are pale to dark grayish. Tail is dark. Female possesses five pairs of mammae; however, females with six and four pairs have also been found.


Inhabits the three Americas; from southeast United States (south Nebraska, central Virginia, southeast Arizona, peninsular Florida), through interior and east Mexico through Central America, to northern Colombia and Venezuela.


Usually an inhabitant of grass dominated landscapes. BEHAVIOR

Both diurnal and nocturnal, and is able to swim. FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Feeds primarily on grasses. There are data showing that it selects food items and combines them into a nutritious diet. It does not hoard food.


Breeding is through the year; however, differences exist in relation to latitude. Gestation lasts approximately 27 days. Litter size varies from one to 15, with animals from northern populations having larger litters. Neonates are well developed at birth; their eyes open within 36 hours after birth and are weaned in 10-15 days. Males reach reproduction maturity in two or three months; females reach it earlier, even in 10 days and in an average of 30-40 days. Females normally produce several litters per year.


The subspecies 5. h. eremicus and 5. h. insulicola are considered at Lower Risk/Near Threatened by the IUCN.


Sigmodon hispidus has been used as a biomonitor to assess environmental contamination. Sigmodon hispidus is the reservoir of two strains of hantavirus called Black Creek Canal virus and Muleshoe viruses; these are pathogenic viruses associated with human pulmonary syndrome. ♦

Common name / Scientific name/ Other common names

Physical characteristics

Habitat and behavior



Conservation status

Allen's woodrat Hodomys alleni

White-throated woodrat Neotoma alblgula German: Wlstenratte

Bushy-tailed woodrat Neotoma cinerea German: Buschschwanzratte

Eastern woodrat Neotoma floridana

Big-eared climbing rat Ototylomys phyllotis

Long, narrow head. Upperparts are reddish brown to dusky brown. Under-parts are white to buff. Tail from dusky to white. Head and body length 14.5-17.5 in(36.8-44.5 cm), tail length 6.2-8.1 in (15.8-20.6 cm).

Coloration is brownish gray, underside is white to gray. Tail is brownish gray on top, lighter on bottom. Feet are white. Head and body length 12.9 in (32.8 cm), weight 7.6 oz (215 g).

Coloration varies across range, from buff to darker. White coloration around the feet. Average male weight 14.3 oz (405 g), female weight 9.5 oz (270 g)

Dry wooded slopes, tropical deciduous forest, rocky outcrops to dense scrub. Little known of reproductive habits. Females produce one to two offspring.

Desert habitats, where they build nests in rocky areas, under shrubs, small trees, or cacti. Breeding season from January to August, two or more litters per season. Nocturnal, solitary, and territorial.

A variety of habitats, from boreal woodlands to deserts. Litter size is usually three offspring. Build constructs called middens, do not hibernate.

Coloration is brown around base of neck to dark brown and black on rump. Nasal area is pink. Body is small, compact.

Dusky-footed woodrat Neotoma fuscipes

Golden mouse Ochrotomys nuttalli

Southern grasshopper mouse Onychomys torridus

Wooded marshes, grasslands, and coastal plains. Litter size ranges from two to seven offspring. Breeding season varies with geographic location. Nocturnal and solitary, except during breeding season.

Coloration is cinnamon with tints of buff On hillsides, valleys, and and pink. Ears are thin, large, rounded, and broad. Claws are short. Head and body length 15.2-17.4 in (38.5-44.3 cm), weight 8.1-10.6 oz (230-300 g).

Coloration of fur is gold, underparts are white, tail is cream. Cheeks contain thick folds of enamel. Head and body length 2-4.5 in (5.1-11.5 cm), tail length 2-3.8 in (5-9.7 cm).

Southernmost Sinaloa to Oaxaca; interior Mexico along basin of Rio Balsas to central Puebla.

Extreme southeastern California to southern Colorado to western Texas, United States, south to northeastern Michoacan and western Hidalgo, Mexico.

Southeast Yukon and westernmost Northwest Territories, south through British Columbia and western Alberta, Canada, to northwestern United States, as far south as northern New Mexico and Arizona and east to western Dakotas.

South-central and eastern United States from east-central Colorado to eastern Texas, eastwards along Appalachians to western Connecticut, and along Gulf-Coast states to southern North Carolina and central Florida.

close to water. Avoid open grassland and open oak woods with little underbrush. Nocturnal, uses branches for travel.

Thick woodlands, swampy areas, among vines, and within small trees and shrubs. Reproduces all year; nocturnal and solitary.

Coco-oil seeds along with other types of seeds, crabs.

Mainly cacti.

Lower Risk/ Near Threatened

Not threatened

Consists mainly of vegetable matter, such as woody plants, and arthropods.

Not threatened

Leaves, bark, fruits, and seeds.

Not threatened

Western Oregon through western and central California, United States, to northern Baja California, Mexico.

Southeastern Missouri across to southern Virginia, south to eastern Texas, the Gulf Coast, and central Florida.

Central California,

Seventy-two different Not threatened types of plants.

Mainly seeds.

Not threatened

Seeds, plants, and

Fine, dense fur, gray or pinkish cinnamon Found within burrow in color. Underside of tail is white. Head systems in the ground. Most southern Nevada, and vegetables. and body length 3.5-5.1 in (9-13 cm), tail length 1.2-2.4 in (3-6 cm).

Not threatened reproductive activity between late spring and summer. Extremely aggressive, nocturnal, good climbers.

Coloration is gray and brown on dorsal side, white and gray on the ventral side. Hands and feet are pale. Tail is long, hairless, covered with scares, from dark gray/brown to a paler color on ventral surface. Eyes and ears are large and hairless. Head and body length 3.7-7.5 in (9.5-19 cm), tail length 3.9-7.5 in (10-19 cm).

Tropical forests, both dry and wet, with abundant rocks or rocky ledges. Nocturnal and arboreal.

extreme southwestern Utah, United States, south to northern Baja California, western Sonora, and northernmost Sinaloa, Mexico.

Central Costa Rica north to Yucatán Peninsula, southern Tabasco, and northern Chiapas, Mexico; isolated record from north-central Guerrero, Mexico.

Fruits and leaves.

Not threatened

Common name /

Scientific name/


Habitat and


Other common names






Texas mouse

Coloration of dorsal side Is brown with

Rocky areas including cliffs

Edwards Plateau of

Seeds, fruits, flowers,

Not threatened

Peromyscus attwateri

darker and blackish marks mixed in.

and limestone outcrops with

north-central Texas,

nuts, and other plant

Underside is lighter. Head and body

woody vegetation. Breeding

north through eastern


length 7.8 in (19.8 cm), weight 0.9-1.2

season from late September

Oklahoma, to south

oz (25-35 g).

to winter. Four offspring per

eastern Kansas, south


western Missouri, and

northwestern Arkansas,

United States.

California mouse

Coloration is yellowish brown or gray

Dense chaparral and broad-

Central and southern

Fruits, seeds, and flowers

Not threatened

Peromyscus californicus

mixed with black dorsal coloring. Under-

sclerophyll woodland.

California, United

of shrubs.

parts are white. Fulvous throat patch and

Nocturnal, poor burrower,

States, excluding San

lateral line are present. Head and body

breeding occurs year-round.

Joaquin Valley, to

length 8.7-11.2 in (22-28.5 cm), tail

northwestern Baja

length 4.6-6.1 in (11.7-15.6 cm), weight

California Norte,

1.2-1.9 oz (33.2-54.4 g).


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