The Dusky-footed Wood rat falls under many relationship categories--competitive, commensalism, parasitic, and predatory. Its interactions with other species make up it’s lifestyle—where it gathers food, nests, and roams. Some predators of this animal involve owls, skunks,hawks, coyotes, wolves, and wildcats (Bonadio, 2000; National Wildlife Federation, 2012). Being a nocturnal animal, these rodents eat fungi and plants during the night, of which include bark, greens, seeds, and fruits. It is competition to get these foods, considering other herbivores are seeking out the same foods (National Wildlife Federation, 2012). It helps for them to be nocturnal, that way they don’t have any face-to-face conflictions over food.
        As for other relationships this animal has, the parasitic relationship consists of the wood rat carrying parasites like fleas, ticks, and mites. If a wood rat family decides to relocate, many other small animals use the wood rat’s means of shelter. Their homes make good shelters for reptiles such as snakes, creating a commensal relationship between the two (Bonadio, 2000).
        The dusky footed wood rat is an herbivore who collects its food from vegetation in itsWood rat in its natural habitat. surrounding habitat; for example: plants, fruits, and nuts. Considering this species is mostly nocturnal, their small feet help them to scurry and get food quietly. The food gathered is not only used for nutrients, but water as well. Based on the season, plants with high water content may be scarce. The wood rat is known for storing extra food in its home and at night, consume the majority of it (Bonadio, 2000). In one observation, the wood rat studied collected 132 pieces of fresh cuttings throughout the night. A total consumed in this one night was about 44 grams, which is normal for them (Bonadio, 2000).
        As for the food web, the wood rat fits at the end. Its only “prey” would be plants, which are basically defenseless. On the other hand, with its small figure, it is easily preyed upon by many other animals above it. To find more about its part in the food chain, see the Form and Function page.
        For means of survival, the way this organism travels is key. If its trail is close to the surface and clear of impediment, the wood rat has a successful trip out to gather food. Due to its small feet, it can scurry fast (Innes, et al, 2007). If there are several forms of brush and leaves on the ground, the animal walks slowly by lifting one small leg at a time. Running across these leaves could cause a lot of noise, making them more susceptible to attracting predators. If there are long branches, it prefers to scamper across them instead of around them. While running, the tail is pointed straight out parallel to the ground, in order to eliminate as much noise as possible (Bonadio, 2000).
        As for its interactions with other species, the species usually are tolerant of each other between houses. In a normal setting, the dusky-footed wood rat is quiet but still attentive, with most of its weight bearing on its hind legs. However, when irritated, the ears are pulled back tight. Such occurrences could happen when males are fighting. To signify a fight, both animals pound their tails against the ground while opening and closing their mouths. Normally, one male will initiate the argument by charging and biting its opponent (Bonadio, 2000).
Dusky-footed woodrat.        Because the males travel to different houses to find a mate, interactions within houses happen mostly between females. The male comes into play once it has chosen a mate and permanently lives in the home with the female wood rat. To learn more about mating and reproduction, visit the Reproduction page. These wood rats have to have spectacular sanitation routines, where the most wastes are kept outside of the home. Because it is highly unlikely that all waste is kept out of the home, the waste that does collect is placed in areas that are not hindering their daily living activities.
        The interaction between humans and the dusky footed wood rat is actually a positive relationship. Many of these animals are found at the base of rat houses. With eating and drinking comes feces, which humans have found to be a very good fertilizer.
        The wood rat is mostly found in California, where agriculture is predominant. This fertilizer is in abundance and used by farmers to fertilize their fields to promote growth of their crops (Bonadio, 2000).

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Gabriella Tuminello and Emma Conway of the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse. Bio 203 - Spring 2014