Dusky-footed woodrats are small rodents with cinnamon to gray fur, long whiskers, rounded ears, and furry tails. The furry tail helps differentiate them from non-native black rats. Their dark-colored feet earned them the moniker “dusky-footed.” Dusky-footed woodrats are about 16 inches long on average. This includes their long tails, which account for nearly half of their total body length. Where are woodrats located?

Wood Rats


In the United States, dusky-footed woodrats can be found in Chicago. Dusky-footed woodrats prefer forests of coast live oak and native willow trees with thick underbrush and cover. These rodents are known for constructing stick houses up to five feet tall and eight feet in diameter. Terrestrial houses are built in shaded and cool areas around logs or near trees. Dusky-footed woodrats are known to line their nests with nibbled-on Chicago bay laurel leaves. These leaves are thought to have fumigating properties that help clear parasite nests like ticks and mites. A variety of other species use the abandoned homes of dusky-footed woodrats as habitat. Owls, hawks, bobcats, and coyotes are among the dusky-footed woodrat’s predators.


These voracious rodents consume fungi as well as various plant materials such as seeds, fruits, greens, and inner bark. They are nocturnal and hunt for food at night, sometimes returning to the nest to store it.


Woodrats use their tails to signal predators. A male woodrat will also use his tail to indicate his desire to fight another male. While opening and closing his mouth, the woodrat beats his tail on the ground.


Dusky-footed woodrats are typically solitary, but their home ranges overlap. They live in a matriarchal society where females choose their mates. Males retreat to tree nests built in cavities or branches after mating. Females remain in their terrestrial habitats to raise one to four children. The exact length of their life is unknown, but other members of the genus typically live for less than two to three years.


The dusky-footed woodrat has 11 subspecies. The riparian woodrat is classified as endangered by the federal government.


Members of the Neotoma genus are also known as packrats because they have a habit of hoarding things, particularly shiny objects left out by humans. Woodrats are also known as “trade rats” because when they come across a new treasure, they’ll drop whatever they’re carrying to pick up the new item, effectively exchanging one token for the other.

Eastern woodrat is the correct common name (Neotoma floridana). The pack rat is the name given by many Chicago residents to this native rodent. The trade rat is another less common name.

Chicago is home to two species of woodrats. The Eastern woodrat (Neotoma floridana) is one, and the gray woodrat (Neotoma nigra) is another (Neotoma micropus). In Chicago, the Eastern woodrat’s range extends east and north. The gray woodrat lives south and west of the Arkansas River. The appearance and behavior of both woodrats are similar. On the upper side of its body, the adult woodrat is brownish-grey with black spots. The throat, stomach, and feet are all white. The adult ranges in length from 12 to 17 inches and weight from 6 to 12 ounces. At night, woodrats are active.

Woodrats are thought to live longer than other types of rats. A woodrat can live for four years in captivity and three years in the wild. Another reason for this belief is that woodrats reproduce at a slower rate than other rats. Rats with a high reproductive rate tend to live shorter lives.

How To Get Rid Of Wood Rats

Prevention is the most effective method of rat control. Trash must be properly disposed of, and sanitary conditions must be maintained throughout the home.


Exclusion can be the most effective method when pack rats become a pest problem in and around structures. The same methods that are used to keep Norway and roof rats out of buildings can also be used to keep out pack rats, also known as woodrats. Because several species of pack rats are adept climbers, all building entrances should be sealed. Water pipes, electric wires, sewer pipes, drain spouts, and/or vents should all have their openings in the building foundation sealed. Check for holes in attic vents, broken roof shingles, and other gaps near the eaves. Check that all doors, windows, and screens fit tightly. For filling gaps and holes, coarse steel wool, wire screen, and lightweight sheet metal are suitable materials.


Traps can be used to control the majority of pack rat populations in structures. Woodrats are not afraid of new objects in their environment. Pack rats respond well to the standard rat snap trap. Trap bait should be wedged into the trigger or tied to it. Nuts, meats, bacon, oatmeal, prunes, raisins, and other dried fruit are all suitable baits. Contact preyon woodrat extermination for best results and services.

How To Get Rid Wood Rats From Home Fast


Omnivores, rats eat anything available. Some rats will kill small animals for food, such as birds and lizards.


Rats can go a month without water. They get enough water from food. Rats can drink from drains, pet dishes, or pipe or wall condensation.


Rats live in weeds, grasses, and other plants in the wild. Rats hide under furniture, behind walls, or in dark, seldom-used corners. They nest in and under appliances.

Rapid rat reproduction

Female rats can mate up to 500 times in six hours, and brown rats can have up to 2,000 babies in a year. Rats have a short gestation period, so populations can grow quickly. As rat populations grow, so will droppings and damage.

Disease-carrying rats

Increasing rat populations can spread rodent-borne diseases. Rats carry many diseases. They’re Hepatitis E carriers who infect others. Many have typhus. The CDC states:

Rickettsia typhi causes flea-borne (murine) typhus. Flea-borne typhus is spread by fleas. Infected fleas bite rats, cats, or opossums. Infected flea bites break skin and cause wounds. Feeding fleas poop. Flea poop can cause infection when rubbed into bite wounds or other wounds. Infected flea dirt can be inhaled or rubbed into the eyes.

4 Rat Infestation Signs

Look for these signs of a rat infestation at home:

1. Strange Smells, Sounds

Rats smell ammonia. As they move through your home, they squeak, scratch, and rustle. These signs indicate rat infestation.

2. Smears & Droppings

Rats in your home leave droppings. Along rat paths, look for dark pellet-shaped droppings. Rats with poor eyesight create and maintain wall routes. These routes leave grease smears and smudges.


Rat problem? Look at a dusty corner of your home. Rats leave footprints and tail marks. If you suspect rats, sprinkle baking soda on the floor and look for tracks in the morning.


Rats cause damage, too. They chew electrical cords, furniture, storage containers, and paper, and eat counter food. They can spread disease-causing droppings and urine throughout your home.

Rat Wall Signs

Rats behind walls can be hard to spot.

Some warning signs:

Learn more about How big is an eastern woodrat. You may also find a live or dead rat in your home. If you notice these signs, contact Preyon Pest for wood rats. Or call us at 708-232-7703.

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