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Pest Information

Cotton Rat

Cotton Rat

  • Latin Name: Sigmodon Hispidus
  • Common Name: Cotton Rat
  • Latin Family Name: Muridae
  • Other Names: Hispid cotton rat

Pest Details


Native to the United States, and now found from coast to coast in the southern half of the country. This species is one of many species in the genus, but it is the most important with respect to health concerns and damage to vegetation and crops.


Principally an outdoor rodent, although it occasionally enters structures. It is a pest problem in landscape, where it feeds on produce and green vegetation, as well as in agriculture where they consume grains, cotton, some vegetables in row crops, and feed crops. They create and use well-defined runways and shallow, connecting burrow systems. These rats are active year-round, are primarily nocturnal, and very aggressive toward each other. They have a high reproductive capacity, with a gestation period of only 27 days, an average of about 6 young per litter, and up to 10 litters in a year. Their average life expectancy in nature is only 6 months.


Cotton rats are smaller than Norway or Roof rats, and their tail is only about one half of their body length and is slightly covered with short hair. Their color is a light gray to grayish brown, although the young rats may be almost black. They may be confused with meadow mice, but are separated by their larger size and longer tails.

Characteristicts Important to Control:

Control is similar to other outdoor rodent problems. The use of bait products either scattered in infested open areas or placed in bait stations, along with trapping in burrows or runways is effective. The use of burrow fumigants may not be effective due to the shallow nature of the burrow and the numerous openings. Habitat modification by plowing of the soil, vegetation removal, or other efforts to reduce protective cover for the rodents also is suggested.

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