IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)

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"Juniper trees are the main source of food, water, and shelter for Stephen's Woodrat. Like Red Tree Voles, which feed mostly on Douglas-fir, the Woodrats are able to feed primarily on conifer leaves, which contain chemical compounds - tannins and terepenoids - that interfere with digestion in most mammals. Stephen's Woodrats usually nest at or near the base of junipers, in habitats that include rocks and crevices. Fossils and studies of preserved middens indicate that these Woodrats have been associated with junipers for at least 15,000 years. Females of this species can reproduce when they are nine months old, and can produce offspring five times a year. Usually only one young is born at a time, but occasionally there are twins."

Adaptation: "This skull of Stephen's woodrat, Neotoma stephensi, illustrates the typical tooth count for the mouse-like cricetids and many other rodents, which is quite different from most other mammals: one pair of incisors (rather than 2-3 pairs), no canines (rather than 1 pair), no premolars (instead of 3-4), and 3 sets of molars (the norm among placental mammals). Loss of teeth allows rodents to slide the lower jaw far forward as they work the huge incisors, and also while chewing, which is done by sliding the upper and lower jaws together in a fore-and-aft cycle of motion."

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© Smithsonian Institution

Source: Smithsonian's North American Mammals

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