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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 Hispid cotton rats usually live in grasslands, which have plenty of grass, their main food. (Illustration by Barbara Duperron. Reproduced by permission.) 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). ∎

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsMice Rats and Relatives: Muridae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Muskrat (ondatra Zibethicus): Species Accounts, Norway Lemming (lemmus Lemmus): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, MICE RATS RELATIVES AND PEOPLE, CON