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Marsh Rice Rat

Marsh rice rats are among the most common mammals inhabiting tidal marshes. Being good swimmers,

 Marsh Rice Rat

Marsh Rice Rat

diving to 10 m and crossing 300 m stretches of water, and able climbers, these rice rats are suitably equipped for life in an environment where water levels fluctuate. They and Coues’s rice rats are carnivores: they prey on crabs, clams, snails, fish, insects, baby turtles, and birds. As opportunistic feeders, they will also eat carrion and even some plant material. They are weaned before they are three weeks old. As with many nocturnal rodents, owls are the main predator.

Ratlike, with long, nearly naked, scaly tail; ears short and hairy; upperparts grizzled grayish brown, heavily lined with black, especially in winter pelage; underparts whitish. External measurements average: total length, 245 mm; tail, 116 mm; hind foot, 29 mm. Weight, 40-68 g, averaging 51 g.

Habits: These rats typically inhabit marshy areas but they may be found in almost any situation where grasses and sedges offer an adequate food supply and protective cover. They are semiaquatic and do not hesitate to swim or dive to escape capture. Near Copano Bay their runways are so situated in the salt grasses and sedges that the rats have to travel in shallow water most of the time. In southeastern Texas, the rats are common on the dikes and levees thrown up in the coastal marshes. In inland areas they prefer marshes and moist meadows; occasionally they live in forested areas.

Their surface runways resemble those made by cotton rats. They are 5-8 cm in width and lead from the shallow burrows or surface nests to the feeding areas. The globular nest is composed of grasses, sedges, or weeds and frequently is placed under debris above high water in the emergent vegetation. They occasionally take over and remodel for their own use the nests of blackbirds.

Life cycle:They are prolific. The breeding season is nearly yearlong, during which time breeding females may bear several litters. A single female may bear five to six litters per year, although suboptimal conditions may restrict reproductive output. Litter size ranges from two to seven (average, four) but may be affected by population density as crowded conditions appear to restrict the number of young produced.

The gestation period is about 25 days. A captive female produced six litters, totaling 20 young, in 1 year an average of 3.3 young per litter. At birth the young are blind, helpless, nearly naked, and weigh about 3 g each. They grow rather rapidly. Their eyes open on the fifth or sixth day; they are weaned on the 11th day; and sexual maturity is reached between 40 and 45 days of age. These rats appear to grow continually throughout their lifetime.

 Marsh Rice Rat

Marsh Rice Rat

Damages:Economic damage by rodents in Colombia involves cereals and oil-producing crops as standing crops. In the livestock area, poultry and pork production are most affected. Agricultural products such as grains and vegetables are attacked by rodents during the post-harvest stage. Social damages are characterized by the transmission of illnesses via contaminated foods or grains. Six species of rodents are most commonly involved and associated with the economic and social problems in united states. These species belong to the families Cricetidae and Muridae. The evaluations of damage caused by rodents in Colombian agriculture have been based on three criteria. The specific characteristics of the damage.The species of rodents involved in the damage.The loss of production at harvest.

Control: The number of rats caught peaked on the 13th day and the number caught at this first peak was 142 . There was a second peak one week later on the 20th day and the number caught was 128 . The trough between the two peaks was 76 . After the second peak, the number of rats declined quite rapidly to 26 on the 28th day. From day 28 to 38, the number fluctuated between 18 to 33 rats and from day 39 onwards, the number of rats caught was 10 and below.

The trapping pattern did not show any correlation with rainfall.Total number of rats caught in the first four weeks was 1953 and this comprised 83.4% of the 2343 rats caught over two months.

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