Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, North American Mammals
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Neotoma lepida

Desert Woodrat

Order: Rodentia
Family: Cricetidae

Image of Neotoma lepida
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Conservation Status: Least Concern.

Desert Woodrats inhabit scrublands in desert and semi-desert areas. Unlike some other rodents living in regions with limited water resources, the Desert Woodrat does not have water-conserving physiological adaptations. The Woodrats solve this problem by eating succulent leaves, which provide the large amount of water they require. They often build their nests in clumps of plants of the agave family and prickly-pear cactus, which can provide them with both food and water. They defecate and urinate on their piles of stored plant material. Some of these dry and harden and last for tens of thousands of years, giving scientists a picture of what plant life was like in the region thousands of years ago. Desert Woodrats occur with other species of rodents, nearly all of them smaller. Their size and more aggressive nature give them an advantage over their neighbors in gaining access to nutrient-rich vegetation.

Also known as:
Desert Packrat

Sexual Dimorphism:
Males are larger than females.

Range: 225-383 mm

Range: 130-160 g


Thomas, O., 1893.  Annals and Magazine of Natural History, ser. 6, 12:235.


Mammal Species of the World

Distribution of Neotoma lepida