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.
NATURE SERVE GLOBAL HABITAT COMMENTS:
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
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
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
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 Unpublished data from Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventories (eastern and western offices) make frequent references to woodrat occurrences in sandstone, limestone, or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.
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).
NATURE SERVE STATE HABITAT COMMENTS:
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.