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Marsh Rice Rat Oryzomys palustris


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Marsh Rice Rat
credit: CDC

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Family: Muridae, Mice and Rats view all from this family

Description Small grayish Oryzomys with tail about equal to head and body length. Has a dark mid-dorsal stripe, the belly and feet are whitish, and the tail is bicolored.

Dimensions 195-260mm, 95-120mm, 45-80g; / 190-255mm, 85-115mm, 40-60g

Endangered Status The Rice Rat, a subspecies of the Marsh Rice Rat, is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as endangered in Florida, where it lives in the westerly Keys. This rat historically lived in salt marsh habitat, and its decline came as its habitat was destroyed to make way for residential and commerical development in the Florida Keys. Much of Rice Rat's remaining habitat is within the National Key Deer Refuge, and thus is protected.

Habitat Beaches, shorelines & estuaries, Grasslands & prairies, Lakes, ponds, rivers & streams, Meadows & fields, Swamps, marshes & bogs

Range Plains, Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Florida, Texas

Discussion Active all year. Makes grapefruit-sized nest of grasses. Found in marshy areas of Atlantic coast and southern United States. Some consider the silvery-gray subspecies O. p. argentatus of Florida Keys to be full species. The subspecies O. p. natator in the lower Florida Keys is Endangered