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  The Mammals of Texas - Online Edition

Coues' Rice Rat
Order Rodentia : Family Muridae : Oryzomys couesi (Alston)

Coues' Rice Rat (Oryzomys couesi).  Photo by John L. Tveten.Description. Similar to 0. palustris, but pelage shorter and color ochraceous buffy or ochraceous tawny instead of grayish brown; underparts buffy instead of whitish. External measurements average: total length, 297 mm; tail, 161 mm; hind foot, 34 mm.

Distribution in Texas. A Mexican form reaching the United States in the lower Rio Grande Valley in Cameron and Hidalgo counties.

Habits. Coues’ rice rats have been captured in cattail-bulrush marshes and aquatic, grassy zones near resacas (oxbow lakes) in Hidalgo County. Apparently, riparian woodland and subtropical evergreen woodland near the resacas are avoided, or at least inhabited less commonly. Likewise, brushland habitats near resacas are not frequently used.

They build their nests in cattails and small trees near or above water. Nests are constructed of leaves, twigs, small vines, and cattail, all finely shredded and woven into a globular shape. No information is available on the reproductive biology of these rats, nor are their feeding habits known.

Remarks. Due to continued and extensive land drainage practices for agricultural purposes in South Texas, these uncommon rodents may be threatened by significant losses of habitat.

Photo credit: John L. Tveten.