Allegheny Woodrat (Neotoma magister)
Like the camel cricket and cave salamander, the Allegheny Woodrat is an example of an Indiana troglophile. The word is based in the Latin for "cave loving." The woodrat can do well in any cave-like environment, and is not restricted to caves. It is primarily nocturnal, and prefers to live in solitary dens. Woodrats build caches of berries, fruits, nuts, and vegetation; often preferring cedar foliage for their nests. They breed from late winter to late summer, with a gestation of about a month. Females may have two to three litters per year, averaging two young in each litter.
The Allegheny woodrat's range once stretched as far north as Owen County; but their range has been rapidly shrinking. The species has disappeared entirely from Connecticut and New York, and is threatened throughout much of its remaining range. The reason for the decline is unclear, but a leading theory involves the raccoon roundworm, a parasite that is often fatal to small mammals. In Indiana, the Allegheny woodrat is restricted to a handful of caves and rock shelters within a few miles of the Ohio River.
Photo courtesy S Johnson / Indiana Dept of Natural Resources