Woodrat Nation

Purpose of Study :

The purpose of this on-going study is to assess the demography and ecology of two species of woodrat, the dusky-footed woodrat ( Neotoma fuscipes ) and the San Diego desert woodrat ( Neotoma lepida ). In particular, this study seeks to understand how these two species partition resources and how their life history traits and reproductive success differs.

Are there differences between the two species in:

•  where they live?

•  where they forage?

•  their timing of reproduction?

•  their dispersal patterns of young?

•  the time of year when they build their houses?

•  patterns of occupancy of houses?

•  what they use to build houses?


The San Diego desert woodrat ( N. lepida ) is found throughout southern California whereas the dusky footed woodrat ( N. fuscipes ) is found in northern and southern California but is not found in the eastern parts of the state. Both species of woodrat live at the Bernard Field Station. The San Diego desert woodrat is a Species of Special Concern.

Woodrats build elaborate houses with available material such as twigs, rocks, dung and cacti. Desert woodrats often utilize cacti in their houses.