The Allegheny woodrat is a North American rodent, present in West Virginia but considered rare and threatened. It differs from similarly sized non-native Norway and black rats primarily by its hairy tail that is dark on top and light underneath. Large eyes, large ears, silky fur, and a blunt nose also characterize the Allegheny woodrat.
The Allegheny woodrat lives in rocky areas including cliffs and caves. It is a herbivore, preferring fruits, berries, nuts, and seeds. Primarily nocturnal, this species is active year-round, supplementing seasonal food sources in the winter with stores of nuts and other vegetation. Its nest is built of finely shredded bark and other materials, and the woodrat strategically places large piles of leaves and other forest litter around the nest site. It is thought these debris piles serve to alert the woodrat of approaching predators.
Historically, the Allegheny woodrat has been found from southern New York to northern Alabama and west to Indiana. Although it is found throughout the state, the Allegheny woodrat is on the rare species list of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. The Allegheny woodrat is not federally protected, but rapid declines in population throughout its range have prompted most states with Allegheny woodrats to declare them as endangered, threatened, or species of concern.
This Article was written by Amy Donaldson Arnold
Last Revised on December 07, 2010
West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. A Closer Look at One of West Virginia's Rare Mammals. West Virginia Wildlife, (Fall 2001).
Castleberry, Steven Bryan. "Conservation and Management of the Allegheny Woodrat in the Central Appalachians." Ph.D. Diss., West Virginia University, 2000.