Have You Eaten a Cotton Rat?

by Linda Jo Conn, Sue Ann Kendall, Eric Neubauer, and Alan Rudd

Sue Ann: This story developed in an email discussion on January 15, 2021, between members of our chapter. We think you’ll enjoy it.

Eric: Yesterday at dusk I had a herd of eight rats outside my back door. I think the snow and flooding had them in a frenzy. After a little research, I believe they were Sigmodon hispidus.

They were eating at the salad bar and kind of cute. Actually it was a little scary when they kept coming out, but a least there were only eight. Looking up the species’ behavior suggests that they wouldn’t be much of a danger or even bother to humans. I picked up some catch and release traps today and will get pictures if I can catch one.

Linda Jo: Eric, your rat experience reminded me of an observation made during a flood event several years back by former member Katherine Bedrich. I finally looked it up and am sharing.  She had driven up the road and found the highway flooded into Cameron. I remember there was a lot of repair work that had to be done in the area on the roads.  

Alan: Excellent memory you have. And that little guy in the photo is in fact a hispid cotton rat.  

We caught them in live traps for mammalogy classes at Texas A&M Wildlife & Fisheries classes in the 1970-80s. They were extraordinarily abundant in those decades in deep grass areas (like Eric’s property).   

Dr. David Schmidly was the mammalogy professor at that time. I remember him saying, “I know that I will never go hungry because I can always catch Sigmodon”.   

He had us clean them on field trip camp-outs and cook them over a fire. Being rodent, it is basically like eating a small squirrel.

Linda Jo: Wow!  I can now say that I know someone who has actually eaten a rat.  

Sue Ann: This story deserves its own blog!

Alan: Essentially it takes about three of them to equal a happy meal🙂

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