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Big-Eared Woodrat

Neotoma macrotis

Big-eared woodrat

Physical Characteristics

No information found.


Prefers forest habitats with moderate canopy, year-round greenery, a brushy understory, and suitable nest building materials. Well-developed understory at base of a single evergreen may be suitable for a single individual. Common to abundant in chaparral habitats.

Generally absent from cultivated land and open grasslands.


Feeds mainly on woody plants, especially live oak, maple, coffeeberry, alder, and elderberry when available. Also eats fungi, flowers, grasses, acorns. Forages on ground, in bushes, and in trees.

Drinks water, but may be sustained by leafy vegetation and fungi.


Mostly nocturnal. May reduce activity on moonlit or rainy nights. Active year-round.

Houses are built of sticks and leaves at the base of, or in a tree, around a shrub, or at the base of a hill. Houses may measure 8 ft (2.4 m) in height and 8 ft (2.4 m) in diameter. Abundance probably limited by availability of nesting-building materials. Other small mammals and amphibians and reptiles are known to use woodrat houses. Competition for houses is constant and intense. Cattle grazing probably reduces carrying capacity for woodrats by removing cover. Wildfires and prescribed burning are likely to be detrimental by destroying houses.

Home range: In Sonoma Co., home ranges averaged 0.58 ac (0.23 ha) for males, 0.48 ac (0.19 ha) for females, and 0.43 ac (0.17 ha) for juveniles; densities reached a peak of 8 individuals/ac (20/ha) in late summer (Cranford 1977). In Monterey Co., an individual may confine its lifetime activity around a single tree, or range over 46.2 ac (18.7 ha) (Linsdale and Tevis 1951). In chaparral habitat, density was reported to reach 7.5 ac (18.8 ha) (Bleich 1973).

Woodrat House


Breeds from December to September, with a peak in mid-spring. Litter size averages 2-3 young (range 1-4). One to 5 litters per year. Females probably are promiscuous.

Nests are located in the stick house, and are constructed of shredded grass, leaves, and other miscellaneous materials (e.g., bird feathers). The average dimensions: 4.4 in (112 mm) x 4 in (101 mm) with a depth of 3.4 in (85 mm). The nest is defended against competitors.


Species is heavily preyed upon by owls, coyotes, bobcats, hawks, and perhaps snakes.


Woodrat Track


California Wildlife Habitat Relationships System, California Department of Fish and Game, California Interagency Wildlife Task Group;