Allegheny woodrat
Neotoma magister
ITIS Species Code:   555661         NatureServ Element Code:   AMAFF08100
NatureServe Global Rank: 
NatureServe State (NC) Rank: 
Federal Status: 
NC State Status: 
Land Unit

US Fish & Wildlife Service
US Forest Service
US National Park Service
US Department of Defense
NC State Parks
NC University System
NC Wildlife Res. Com.
NC Forest Service
NC Div. of Coastal Mgmt.
Local Governments
Non-Governmental Org.
Other Public Lands
Private Lands

GAP Status 1-2
All Protected Lands




% of Dist. on
Prot. Lands

0.0 %
86.0 %
0.0 %
0.4 %
7.9 %
0.0 %
5.1 %
0.0 %
0.0 %
0.3 %
0.3 %
0.0 %
0.0 %

22.1 %
% of Dist. on
All Lands

0.0 %
40.3 %
0.0 %
0.2 %
3.7 %
0.0 %
2.4 %
0.0 %
0.0 %
0.2 %
0.1 %
0.0 %
53.2 %

10.3 %
This species is primarily limited to the northern mountains of North Carolina (Lee et al. 1982), but pocket populations may occur elsewhere in the western part of the state.

This woodland rat is largely restricted to mountain slopes and ravines with rocky terrain. Wooded landscapes containing rock outcrops, cliffs, rocky river bluffs, boulder fields, talus slopes, and caves are preferred (Whitaker and Hamilton 1998). Populations are localized and have been referred to as being loosely organized colonies (Lee et al. 1982).

The rat seeks out ledges, fissures and small galleries among boulders, under suitably large talus slabs, and in caves and rock faces to making large denning and nesting structures of sticks, leaves, trash and debris (Whitaker and Hamilton 1998). Occasionally, it will nest in buildings such as abandoned cabins and well houses.


Rocky cliffs and talus slopes. Makes midden mounds and stick piles among rocks, but secluded nest sites generally are not within stick houses (see Hayes and Harrison 1992).

The Allegheny woodrat is, throughout its range, associated with extensive rocky areas such as outcrops, cliffs, talus slopes with boulders and crevices, and caves. It occasionally uses abandoned buildings but generally avoids humans. It generally occurs at higher elevations (to about 1000 m) and is rarely found in lowlands or open areas.

In southern New York, New Jersey, and adjacent Pennsylvania, woodrat habitat 'consists of extensive boulder fields at the base of ridges with rock outcrops. These talus slopes consist of large boulders (10-20 ft. [3-6 m] across) piled in several layers. Neotoma lives among the cave like spaces formed by the piled boulders' (Sciascia 1990).

Referring to the mountainous area of Pennsylvania, Merritt (1987) wrote, 'limestone caves, rocky cliffs and accumulations of residual sandstone boulders marked by deep crevices with underground galleries represent favored habitat.' Hall (1985) pointed out that good habitat is found 'specifically at water gaps where cliff faces and boulder piles are usually abundant.' Unpublished data from Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventories (eastern and western offices) make frequent references to woodrat occurrences in sandstone, limestone, or shale outcrops and cliffs, usually with crevices or abundant boulders; also solution caves and abandoned limestone quarries and mines. Associated forest is varied, including cove hardwoods, hemlock-birch (TSUGA-BETULA), oak-pine (QUERCUS-PINUS), and various combinations of oaks, maples (ACER), hickories (CARYA), beech (FAGUS) and yellow poplar (LIRIODENDRON). Grape (VITIS), mountain laurel (KALMIA), rhododendron (RHODODENDRON MAXIMUM) and ferns are frequently mentioned.

In West Virginia, woodrats are common in caves, rock shelters, outcrops with deep crevices, and riverbanks with an abundance of sandstone rocks and boulders.

In Maryland, this species is found predominately in cliffs, caves and rocky areas in the three western-most counties, and along cliffs of the Potomac River to the vicinity of Washington, D.C. (Feldhammer et al. 1984). In western Maryland 'Pottsville Sandstone outcrops [provide] massive, blocky boulders and extensive cliffs with numerous crevices and miniature cave-like situations' (Thompson 1984).

In Indiana, extant populations of Allegheny woodrat are restricted primarily to south-facing limestone bluffs on the Ohio River, where there are den sites in the rock and dense red cedar (JUNIPERUS VIRGINIANA) (Cudmore 1983, Scott Johnson, pers. comm.).

In Kentucky, 'cliffs with deep crevices, caves, or large boulders piled in such a way as to form numerous retreats and shelters are favored' (Barbour and Davis 1974). In Tennessee, 'rocky cliffs, caves and fissures or tumbled boulders on the sides of mountains are the preferred habitat' (Hamilton 1943), and in North Carolina it is 'rocky places and abandoned buildings at elevations above 3000 ft (900 m)' (Adams 1987).

A large house of sticks, leaves, and miscellaneous debris is built, usually within a cave, crevice, or other well-protected place. This may be a mound like a muskrat house (typical construction in the range of other subspecies), but is more often open, giving the impression of a large bird's nest (Poole 1940). Outside diameter is about 35-60 cm (Patterson 1933) and the inner cavity is about 12 cm across (Poole 1940). The nest is lined with shredded bark of grape, red cedar, hemlock, or basswood (TILIA), grass, fur, rootlets, and sometimes feathers (Poole 1940, Merritt 1987).


Both N. magister and N. f. haematoreia are associated with rocky places and abandoned buildings in W. N.C. The species may occur in abandoned buildings and old barns in Piedmont N.C. The species is found in a variety of natural communities.

Occupied Landcover Map Units:
Code NameDescription NC Natural Heritage Program Equivalent
230 Piedmont Mesic Forest American Beech - Red Oak - White Oak Forests. Mesic Mixed Hardwood
383 Piedmont Mixed Successional Forest Generally loblolly mixed with successional hardwoods. Sweetgum, tulip poplar and red maple are common co-dominants in these successional forests. No equivalent
228 Piedmont Dry-Mesic Oak and Hardwood Forests Primarily oak dominated forests, white oak is often dominant, with co-dominants including . Also represented by sweetgum and tulip poplar dominated forests. Dry Mesic Oak Hickory Forest, Basic Oak Hickory Forest, Dry Oak Hickory Forest
222 Piedmont Dry-Mesic Pine Forests Loblolly dominated forests resulting from succession following clearing. This type occurs on all moisture regimes following disturbance with the exception of the extremely xeric sites. No equivalent
382 Dry Mesic Oak Pine Forests Mixed forests of the coastal plain and piedmont. Includes loblolly pine with white, southern red and/or post oak and loblolly with water oak. On basic sites of the piedmont, eastern red cedar may co-occur with post, black, and blackjack oaks. Dry Mesic Oak Hickory Forest, Xeric Hard Pan Forest, Chestnut Oak Forest, Dry Mesic Oak Hickory Forest, Dry Oak Hickory Forest
220 Piedmont Xeric Pine Forests Dry to xeric pine forests dominated by Virginia pine, shortleaf pine or Eastern Red Cedar. Pine Oak Heath
226 Piedmont Xeric Woodlands Generally post and blackjack oak dominated woodlands. White ash and pignut hickory can be found in combination with Eastern red cedar on glades. Xeric Hardpan Forest
214 Barren; bare rock and sand Areas of bare rock, sand or clay. No equivalent
202 Residential Urban Includes vegetation interspersed in residential areas. Includes lawns, mixed species woodlots, and horticultural shrubs. Vegetation accounts for between 20 - 70% of the cover. No equivalent
522 Northern Hardwoods High Elevation forests including yellow birch, American beech, and yellow buckeye. Includes forests with Hemlock and Yellow Birch. Northern Hardwoods Forest, Boulderfield Forest
525 Appalachian Oak Forest A variety of oak forest types including Black, White, Scarlet Oaks in dry to mesic situations. Includes forests historically co-dominated by American Chestnut. High Elevation Red Oak Forest, Montane White Oak Forest
526 Appalachian Cove Forest Mixed Mesophytic forests of the mountains. Includes tuliptree, basswood, yellow buckeye and surgar maple. This class is mapped to include cove forests dominated or co-dominated by hemlock. Rich Cove Forest, Acidic Cove Forest
528 Appalachian Xeric Pine Forest Pine forests and woodlands on xeric sites. A variety of pines, including Virginia, Shortleaf, Eastern White Pine, Table Mountain and Pitch pine. Often small areas of dense pine within a matrix of Xeric Oak-Pine Forests. Pine Oak Heath
529 Appalachian Xeric Mixed Forest Mixed forests with Virginia, Shortleaf, Eastern White Pine, Table Mountain and Pitch pines in combination with xeric oak species. Oaks include, white, Southern Red, black, and rock chestnut. Pine Oak Heath
530 Appalachian Xeric Deciduous Forest Deciduous forests in the mountains dominated by Xeric Oak species. Species include, white, Southern red, black, and rock chestnut. High Elevation Red Oak Forest, Montane White Oak Forest
535 Talus/Outcrops/Cliffs Includes seep talus slopes with sparce vegetation, as well as outcrops including, granitic outcrops. Some outcrops will have been mapped as barren rock. No equivalent
View Entire Landcover Legend
Additional Spatial Constraints:
Exclude all area outside of known range.
Limited to elevation range: less than 3000 ft.
Patterson, R. C. 1933. Notes on NEOTOMA PENNSYLVANICA, with special reference to the genital organization. Proc. West Virginia Acad. Sci. 33(15):38-42.

Sciascia, J. C. 1990. Eastern woodrats decline in tri-state area. Nongame News Winter 1990:1,8.

Hayes, J. P., and M. E. Richmond. 1993. Clinal variation and morphology of woodrats (NEOTOMA) of the eastern United States. J. Mamm. 74:204-216.

Hamilton, W. J. Jr. 1943. The mammals of Eastern United States. Comstock Publishing Company, Ithaca, New York.

Hayes, J. P., and R. G. Harrison. 1992. Variation in mitochondrial DNA and the biogeographic history of woodrats (NEOTOMA) of the eastern United States. Systematic Biology 41:331-344.

Whitaker, J.O. Jr. and W.J. Hamilton, Jr. 1998. Mammals of the eastern United States. Cornell Univ. Press, Ithaca, New York. 583 pp.

Lee, D. S., L. B. Funderburg Jr., and M. K. Clark. 1982. A distributional survey of North Carolina mammals. Occasional Papers of the North Carolina Biological Survey, No. 1982-10. North Carolina State. Mus. Nat. Hist., Raleigh, North Carolina. 72 pp.

Barbour, R. W., and W. H. Davis. 1974. Mammals of Kentucky. University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky.

Feldhammer, G. A., J. E. Gates and J. A. Chapman. 1984. Rare, threatened, endangered and extirpated mammals from Maryland. Pages 395-438 in Norden, A. W., D. C. Forester, and G. H. Fenwick (eds.). Threatened and endangered plants and animals of Maryland.

Godin, A.J. 1977. Wild Mammals of New England. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 304 pp.

Thompson, E. 1984. The eastern woodrat (NEOTOMA FLORIDANA) in Garrett County, Maryland. Pages 439-41 in A. W. Norden, D. C. Forester, and G. H. Fenwick (eds.). Threatened and endangered plants and animals of Maryland. Maryland Natural Heritage Program, An

Hamilton, William J., Jr., and John O. Whitaker, Jr. 1979. Mammals of the eastern United States. Cornell Univ. Press, Ithaca, New York. 346 pp.

Hall, J. S. 1985. Eastern woodrat, NEOTOMA FLORIDANA Ord. Pages 362-5 in H. H. Genoways, and F. H. Brenner (eds.). Species of special concern in Pennsylvania. Carnegie Mus. Nat. Hist., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Wiley, R. W. 1980. NEOTOMA FLORIDANA. Am. Soc. Mamm., Mammalian Species No. 139:1-7.

Hall, E. R. 1981. The Mammals of North America. Second edition. 2 Volumes. John Wiley and Sons, New York, New York.

Adams, W. F. 1987. NEOTOMA FLORIDANA Ord, eastern wood rat. Pages 29-32 in M. K. Clark (ed.). Endangered, threatened, and rare fauna of North Carolina, Part I:a re-evaluation of the mammals. Occas. Pap. North Carolina Biol. Surv.

Merritt, J. F. 1987. Guide to the mammals of Pennsylvania. University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.

Handley, C. O., Jr. 1991. Mammals. Pages 539-616 in K. Terwilliger, coordinator. Virginia's endangered species:proceedings of a symposium. McDonald and Woodward Publishing Company, Blacksburg, Virginia.

10 March 2005
This data was compiled and/or developed by the North Carolina GAP Analysis Project.

For more information please contact them at:
NC-GAP Analysis Project
Dept. of Zoology, NCSU
Campus Box 7617
Raleigh, NC 27695-7617
(919) 513-2853