Neotoma leucodonwhite-toothed woodrat

Geographic Range

Neotoma leucodon is found from the southeastern United States to central Mexico. They are most commonly found in southeast Colorado, eastern New Mexico, western Texas, and western Oklahoma, and in Mexico they can be found as far south as Guanajuato (Wilson and Reeder, 2005)


Neotoma leucodon is a terrestrial species that tends to occupy arid regions such as cactus stands, rocky areas, and shrublands. They live at elevation levels from sea level to 2,800 m. They build dens out of vegetation and woody debris for protection from weather and predators (Mares, 1999)

  • Range elevation
    0 to 2800 m
    0.00 to 9186.35 ft

Physical Description

Neotoma leucodon is a moderate-sized woodrat with large, protruding black eyes, large ears, and a short tail. It is covered in short hairs, brown-gray coloration on its head and back, and white coloration on its underside. They are on average around 300 mm long and weigh from 130-290 g. They are lighter in color than subspecies Neotoma leucodon zacatecae. Presence of sexual dimorphism is unknown. (Goldman, 1905; Schmidly and Bradley, 2016)

  • Range mass
    130 to 290 g
    4.58 to 10.22 oz
  • Average length
    300 mm
    11.81 in


Mating systems on this species are unknown, but closely related species such as Neotoma albigula are known to be polygynandrous, meaning that both males and females have multiple mates. (Macedo and Mares, 1988)

Breeding season extends from January to September for Neotoma leucodon. Their gestational period is approximately 30 days. Their litter sizes are 2-3 offspring, and they often give birth to at least three litters per season. Their ears open within 13-15 days after birth, their eyes in 15-19 days, and they are weaned from their mother at 62-72 days old. They become indistinguishable from adults by 6 months of age. (Schmidly and Bradley, 2016)

  • Breeding interval
    Neotoma leucodon have at least 3 litters per mating season.
  • Breeding season
    Breeding season is from January to September.
  • Range number of offspring
    6 (low)
  • Average number of offspring
  • Average gestation period
    30 days
  • Range weaning age
    62 to 72 days
  • Average time to independence
    6 months

Neotoma leucodon give birth to altricial young with specialized incisors that allow them to cling to their mother’s nipples during movement, allowing them to drag along behind her. (Schmidly and Bradley, 2016)


Lifespan for Neotoma leucodon is unknown, but closely related species like Neotoma albigula have an average lifespan of between 3 and 5 years. (Brown and Zeng, 1989)

  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    3 to 5 years


While they may inhabit the same areas and may share home ranges, Neotoma leucodon are not a social species. Only one individual occupies a single den, unless that individual is a female, then it is shared with offspring until they old enough to leave home. They gather vegetation and woody debris to form cone-like dens, which have one opening often connected to their paths. This species will use the same paths to wear them down and expedite travel. In areas with little plant material sufficient for den building, they may begin burrowing tunnels underground. Neotoma leucodon is a nocturnal species (Schmidly and Bradley, 2016)

  • Key Behaviors
  • terricolous
  • motile

Home Range

Home range size is unknown, but home ranges tend to be inhabited by multiple individuals, in an overlapping pattern. (Schmidly and Bradley, 2016)

Communication and Perception

Not much is known about communication with Neotoma leucodon, but closely related species like Neotoma albigula communicate with conspecifics using scent. (Brown and Zeng, 1989)

Food Habits

The diet of Neotoma leucodon consists of multiple desert vegetation species. Their main plant of choice are cacti species. They also prefer grasses and forbs. Rarely, if needed, they will consume animal material such as ants and beetles. Water consumption is done mainly through water-rich plant species. (Schmidly and Bradley, 2016)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • fruit
  • flowers


Main predators of this species include desert gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer), rattlesnakes (Crotalus cerastes), and weasels. Other predation threats are posed by bobcats, coyotes, and owls. This species’ nocturnal nature and den building tends to protect them from predation (Schmidly and Bradley, 2016)

  • Known Predators
    • Gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer), rattlesnake (Crotalus cerastes), weasels, bobcats, coyotes, owls

Ecosystem Roles

Neotoma leucodon has a mainly herbivorous diet, which helps with seed dispersal and can alter the vegetation makeup of a given area. They can also be a food source to predators which can in turn improve populations of their predator species. (Prakash and Ghosh, 1975)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

There are no known positive effects of Neotoma leucodon on humans.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known negative effects of Neotoma leucodon on humans.

Conservation Status

Neotoma leucodon is a species of least concern as listed by the IUCN. It is also not listed on The U.S. Federal List or CITES. This species does not currently have any population threats.

Other Comments

More research is needed for this species to have a complete and comprehensive Species Account.


Donovan Murphy (author), University of Washington, Laura Prugh (editor), University of Washington, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map


young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


an animal that mainly eats meat


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

desert or dunes

in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females


an animal that mainly eats leaves.


an animal that mainly eats fruit


an animal that mainly eats seeds


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals


chemicals released into air or water that are detected by and responded to by other animals of the same species


the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.

scent marks

communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.


A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.


reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.


Brown, J., Z. Zeng. 1989. Comparative Population Ecology of Eleven Species of Rodents in the Chihuahuan Desert. Ecology, 70/5: 1507-1525.

Goldman, E. 1905. Twelve new woodrats of the genus Neotoma.. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington., 18: 27-34.

Macedo, R., M. Mares. 1988. Neotoma albigula.. American Society of Mammalogists., 310: 1-7.

Mares, M. 1999. Neotoma albigula.. Pp. 596-598 in D Wilson, ed. The Complete Book of North American Mammals. Smithsonian Institution: American Society of Mammalogists..

Prakash, I., P. Ghosh. 1975. Rodents in Desert Environments. Berlin, Germany: Springer Science & Business Media.

Schmidly, D., R. Bradley. 2016. The Mammals of Texas. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.

Wilson, D., D. Reeder. 2005. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.