Sigmodon hispidus Photo Fiona Sunquist ©
Cotton rats are found mainly in grassy habitats, where they can be very abundant. They are a major food item for many predators. Cotton rats are recognizable by their salt-and-pepper colored fur, large eyes and robust build. They are largely nocturnal. They eat roots, stems, leaves, fruits, nuts and sugar cane.
Cotton rats in the southeast are prolific breeders, producing several litters per year with litter sizes of 2-15. They build a cup-shaped nest of woven grasses. They build well-defined runways that radiate in all directions from the nest site. You can tell a cotton rat runway by the piles of cut grass (2-3 in long pieces) placed along the runways.
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