Damage to Crops and Landscapes
The amount and extent of damage is directly related to the relative density of the cotton rat population. The cost of control must be weighed against the value of the crop. Cotton rat populations fluctuate greatly, ranging from 11 to 149 per acre (28 to 373/ha), and cause the most serious damage during population peaks. They may damage a variety of crops, including alfalfa, grains, grasses, vegetables, peanuts, fruit crops, sweet potatoes, and sugar beets. Cotton rats are especially troublesome in sugar-cane and melons. Since these animals will eat quail eggs, a high cotton rat population may have a detrimental impact on quail nesting success. Cotton rats also compete with quail for the same foods.