The woodrat resembles an overgrown deer mouse and is not related to the notorious Norway rat. The common name of "packrat" stems from its propensity for bringing objects that it finds to its nest. Here I discuss the species in our region and show examples of tracks, trails, and scat.


Dusky-footed woodrat found in a woodlot in the Willamette Valley of Oregon (dead of unknown causes). These are rather large rodents--the body was 8" long and the tail was 6.25" long.

Front and hind feet of the woodrat. The hind foot was 1.5" long. Like most rodents the toe pattern for woodrats is 4 front and 5 hind (4f5H).

Oregon has three species of woodrat. The dusky-footed is a reddish brown with a sparsely-haired tail and dusky gray coloration down the front feet. As its name implies, the bushy-tailed has a heavily-haired tail compared to other woodrats. The desert woodrat is a lighter color and is found in the Great Basin region of the state.

Species Habitat Range
(Neotoma fuscipes )
Riparian areas, shrubby woodlands, valley lowlands Willamette Valley of Oregon and most of California
(Neotoma cinerea)
Rocky, shrubby areas, abandoned buildings, high elevation Yukon to central California, east to North Dakota and New Mexico
(Neotoma lepida )
High desert, sagebrush flats, juniper and pinyon pine Southeastern Oregon, southern and coastal California, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, northwestern Arizona


I found these excellent dusky-footed tracks along the Tualatin River in Jackson Bottoms. High water had left an inch of fine silt along the banks.


Note that the woodrat tends to show a diagonal stride with indirect register. This specimen had an 8" stride and 2" straddle. However, the trail frequently transitioned into a bounding stride as well.


The desert woodrat often uses an inaccessible rocky nest for extended periods, resulting in the accumulation of scat.

Return to Menu