Cotton Rats

Category: Rodents

Scientific Name: Sigmodon (spp.)



Color: Body is grayish colored mixed with black and white

Size: Body is 13.3 to 21.3 cm long. Average weight is about 2-7 ounces

Region: Found throughout the US

Important Considerations:

  • Cotton Rats begin breeding at 6 weeks old and can produce up to 9 litters every year
  • Female rats normally produce 5 to 6 baby rats per litter, with a gestation period of 27 days
  • Adults rarely live more than 1 year in the wild
  • These types of rats are of medical concern because they can be infected with the plague and murine typhus
  • Recently it was discovered that they are a carrier of the pathogenic hantavirus (disease causing) known as Black Creek Canal Virus
  • They nest on the surface of grounds or in shallow burrows


Where to Find Them on Your Property?

You can find Cotton Rats in areas of tall grass, weeds, sedges, and generally preferring moist areas. These rats find areas to live in home gardens and landscaped areas, but will occasionally build homes inside structures. They feed on vegetables like tomatoes, melons, sweet potatoes, field crops, sugar cane plants, cotton, sweet potatoes, grains, Alaffa and more. They will also occasionally feed on the ground eggs of birds, such as quail.