Mice Rats and Relatives: Muridae
Hispid Cotton Rat (sigmodon Hispidus): Species Accounts
Physical characteristics: Hispid cotton rats have a gray streaked coat with blackish or dark brownish hairs; pale to dark grayish underparts; dark tail; and five pairs of nipples, although some have four or six pairs. Adults have a total length of 8.8 to 14.4 inches (22.4 to 36.5 centimeters); tail length of 3.2 to 6.5 inches (8.1 to 16.6 centimeters); and weight of 3.5 to 8 ounces (100 to 225 grams).
Geographic range: They are found from southeast and southcentral United States through the interior and eastern part of Mexico, into Central America, and to northern Colombia and Venezuela.
Habitat: Hispid cotton rats usually live in grasslands.
Diet: Their diet consists mostly of grasses.
Behavior and reproduction: Hispid cotton rats are active during the day and night, and are able to swim. They breed throughout the year. The gestation period is about twenty-seven days. Litter size is from one to fifteen pups, with northern populations having larger litters. Young are well developed at birth; eyes open within thirty-six hours of birth; and are weaned in ten to fifteen days. Males are able to reproduce within sixty to ninety days, and females within ten to forty days.
Hispid cotton rats and people: Scientists observe hispid cotton rats to help them determine how environmentally healthy an area is.
Conservation status: The hispid cotton rat is not threatened, though two subspecies, populations that live in specific areas, are Near Threatened (likely will be threatened in the future). ∎
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