Arizona Cotton Rat

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I’ve often told people that I’ll happily photograph anything with DNA.  I’m very eclectic in my taste and I’m equally at home with the majestic and the mundane.

Today’s subject is the Arizona Cotton Rat.  And, before you say “Ewwww, a rat!” please consider a few things about this creature.

Cotton rats are a unique group of species.  They are not the same as the Black and Norway rats that inhabit our cities.  Cotton rats are specialists: they live only in grassy areas and low vegetation adjacent to bodies of water.  They don’t invade our homes and they pose no threat to humans.  The Arizona Cotton Rat is a unique species of cotton rat that lives in southern Arizona and in parts of Mexico, including coastal Mexico alongside the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez).  They are shy and innocuous creatures, subsisting on native vegetation.  And, yes, I think that they are kind of cute.

They are a very common sight over at Sweetwater Wetlands.  That’s where I photographed this individual a few days ago.  I spent quite some time observing this rat and its cohort.  For reasons that are unclear, there were four or five of them very actively shuttling back and forth between the reeds that lie adjacent to one of the wetlands’ ponds and some nearby bushes.  They were coming and going with such regularity that they’d worn a faint trail in the dirt.  It’s possible, I suppose, that the rats were foraging in the reeds but had built nests on drier ground in order to raise their offspring.

Image made with a Canon 5Div, 100-400mm ISII zoom lens+1.4x telextender, aperture priority setting, ISO 500, f8 @ 1/1250.

2 responses to “Arizona Cotton Rat”

  1. Tom Munson says :

    I agree Steve, they are kind of cute. Nice shot.

  2. Liesl Kii says :

    Thanks for the photograph and also for the information on Cotton Rats. After reading what you wrote, I can agree – they are kind of cute!

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