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Western Wood Rat

Western Wood Rats are some of the most troublesome and damaging rodents in the United States. They eat and contaminate food, damage structures and property, and transmit parasites and diseases to other animals and humans. Rats live and thrive in a wide variety of climates and conditions and are often found in and around homes and other buildings, on farms, and in gardens and open fields.

Western Wood Rat

Western Wood Rat

Neotoma magister Baird is a medium-sized rodent that dens and forages in and around rock habitats such as cliffl ines, colluvial boulderfi elds, and cave entrances, and occasionally uses abandoned human structures. Historically, Allegheny Woodrats have been extirpated from New York and Connecticut, and have declined in the northern and western parts of their range .

Western Woodrats appear to be more common in the central and southern parts of their distribution. The Western Woodrat is considered a species deemed in need of management in Tennessee . The rank in Tennessee may be due to the general lack of information on population status in the southern extent of the range.

Life Cycle:Rats, like house mice, are active mostly at night. They have poor eyesight, but they make up for this with their keen senses of hearing, smell, taste, and touch. Rats constantly explore and learn, memorizing the locations of pathways, obstacles, food and water, shelter, and features of their environment. They quickly detect and tend to avoid new objects and novel foods. Thus, they often avoid traps and baits for several days or more following their initial placement. While both species exhibit this avoidance of new objects rats can gain entry to structures by gnawing, climbing, jumping, or swimming through sewers and entering through toilets or broken drains. While Norway rats are more powerful swimmers, roof rats are more agile and are better climbers.

Damage:Most problems involve woodrats moving into barns or outbuildings or into trucks, cars, tractors, combines and other equipment left in one place for some time.Woodrats also get under mobile homes as well as in crawl spaces or attics and basements of houses. They will often carry tools away and eat the insulation off electrical wiring.Laws and Regulations Kansas law affords some protection to woodrats; however, the rodents can be controlled in Kansas by homeowners,landowners or tenants when woodrats cause property damage.

Western Wood Rat

Western Wood Rat

Controls: Store garbage in rodent-proof containers. Make sure your garbage cans have tight fitting lids so dogs or wildlife can’t tip them. Clean up spilled or unused pet food. Store pet food in rodent-proof containers. Failure to do this may lead to serious insect infestations of the feed that rodents often carry into the walls. Also, clean up pet excrement, as rats will eat it if they have to.Do not scatter food for wildlife such as birds or squirrels. Use rodent-proof bird feeders. If rats are a serious problem, eliminate all bird feeders.Compost piles should be properly managed to ensure rapid decomposition of potential rat foods.Clean up fallen fruits or nuts from trees. Prune seed pods from lilac and other shrubs.Store garden/lawn seed, bone meal, etc. in rodent-proof containers.

Employ rodent-proofing features in new buildings.To rodent-proof existing buildings.Repair any cracks or small holes in the foundations and repair broken windows and doors repair broken sewers,seal any holes, where pipes or wires enter the building, with sheet metal collars or concrete. Repair screens and cover foundation vents with rodent proof screen material.Elevate compost, lumber and wood piles at least 12 inches above ground.Remove unmanaged blackberries or brush near buildings.Prune ornamental shrubs away from the ground and avoid planting ground covers that afford shelter.

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