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Ecological Observations on the Woodrat, Neotoma floridana
written by "Fitch, Henry S., 1909-2009"
...tinosum), carrion-flower, and tickle grass (Panicum capillare). Although the eastern woodrat is relatively unspecialized in its[Pg 525] feeding habits, a few species of favored food plants probably make up the greater part of its diet. In northeastern Kansas, at present, osage orange probably is by far the most important single species. Despite the fact that its aromatic leaves and fruits are somewhat repellent to insects and some other animals, they are well liked by woodrats, and provide a year-round food supply to those individuals having houses in or near the trees. Honey locust similarly provides thorny shelter for house sites, while the foliage, the seeds, and the bark of twigs and trunks are eaten. In houses that are situated near honey locusts, the large, heavy seed pods are sometimes stored by the hundreds. Old pods are often used in substitution for sticks as building material in the house. Nevertheless, honey locust is used relatively little as compared with osage orange. Other plants that figure most importantly in the diet include bittersweet, fox grape, pokeberry and horse nettle (Solanum carolinense). Rainey (op. cit.) mentioned that captive woodrats would eat meat, both cooked and raw, and on one occasion he found remains of a cicada on a house under circumstances suggesting that this insect had been eaten by a rat. In the course of trapping for opossums and small carnivores, woodrats were caught on many occasions by Fitch in traps baited with animal material exclusively—miscellaneous meat scraps, canned dog-food, bacon grease, or carcasses of small vertebrates. In fact, such baits seemed to be even more attractive than the grain, seeds, peanut butter and raisins that had been used customarily to bait the traps set for woodrats. However, such meat baits could be used effectively only in cold weather, because of rapid spoilage and interference by insects at higher temperatures. On one occasion an adult pilot b...

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