Home Smithsonian: National Museum of Natural History Home
Lewis & Clark as Naturalists
The Collection: Species Details Lewis and Clark as Naturalists
Mammal    Species Name:
Neotoma floridana

Common Name:
Eastern Wood Rat


Osage River, Missouri   May 31, 1804

The native rat

Lewis and Clark spoke of three rats, the common European house rat, today called the Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus), the native rat of the Atlantic states, today's eastern woodrat (Neotoma floridana), and the rat in the Rocky Mountains with the hairy tail (Neotoma cinerea).  As the eastern woodrat may be found from Florida to Nebraska, and Texas to the Mid-Atlantic states, it is no surprise Lewis appeared to be familiar with the species.  The unexplained thing is that the eastern woodrat, a noticeable forest mammal weighing around 10 oz., was not described for science until 1818. 

For more information about this North American mammal, click here.

Journal Entries:

Capt. Clark, May 31, 1804--Several rats of Considerable Size was Caught in the woods to day.
Patrick Gass, July 7,...  more>>

References Ord, George, Bulletin des Sciences de la Societe Philomatique,1818:181, Paris , 1818

see following caption

See following caption
eastern wood rat

Smithsonian Institution
Copyright Notice
Privacy Notice