Identification | Biology | Damage ID | Management | Handling

Southern plains woodrat (Neotoma micropus. Photo by BongoPete, CC By-SA 4.0.


This chapter dicusses eight species of woodrats (genus Neotoma) that occur in North America (Table 1). Locally known as pack rats or trade rats, these rodents are about the size of the common Norway rat. They are distinguishable from Norway rats by their hairy rather than scaly tail, soft, fine fur, and large ears. They usually have light-colored feet and bellies.

Legal Status

Woodrats are classified as nongame animals. In most states they can be taken (controlled) when they threaten or damage property. Check with your local wildlife or agriculture department for laws and regulations specific to your area, as some subspecies are protected. For example, the Key Largo woodrat (Neotoma floridana smalli) was federally listed as endangered in 1991. In Nebraska, Bailey’s eastern woodrat (Neotoma floridana baileyi) is considered at high risk.

Physical Description

The eight species are described in Table 1.

Species Range

The ranges of species of woodrats are shown in the maps below.

Range of eastern (dark) and whitethroat (light) woodrats in North America.
Range of southern plains (dark) and bushytail (light) rats in North America.
Range of Mexican (dark) and desert (light) woodrats in North America.
Range of dusky-footed (dark) and Stephens (light) woodrats in North America.


Information on this species is based on the chapter in Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage (Hygnstrom, Larson, Timm, ed. 1994), written by Terrell Salmon (Wildlife Extension Specialist) and W. Paul Gorenzel (Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Conservation Biology, University of California Davis).