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Volume 71—1991

{Page 53}

New Distributional Records for Rice Rats (Oryzomys palustris) in Oklahoma

Donald Gettinger
Department of Zoology and Oklahoma Biological Survey, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019
Received: 1990 September 24

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The rice rat (Oryzomys palustris) has been observed in marshy habitats of extreme southern and eastern Oklahoma (1-4; Fig. 1, open circles). This paper reports extensions of the range of this species to the west and north (Fig. 1, filled circles).

In June and July 1989, I surveyed small mammals in several wetland habitats of Carter, Johnston, and Coal counties in southcentral Oklahoma. On 28 June, two adult male rice rats were captured and released in cattails (Typha sp.) adjacent to Lake Murray in southern Carter County (Fig. 1, No. 6). On 29 June, near Bromide in southern Coal County (Fig. 1, No. 7), an adult male was collected from a spring-fed marsh and deposited in the mammal collection at the Oklahoma Museum of Natural History (OMNH-19355). Rice rats were not captured in Johnston County. These observations extend the known limits for this species in southern Oklahoma.

In eastern Oklahoma, McCarley (4) reported rice rats from wetland habitats in Pushmataha and Pittsburg counties (Fig. 1, No. 4). The northernmost record (5) is of two males and one female collected by Robert D. Owen on 27-28 May 1980 near Stigler in Haskell County (Fig. 1, No. 5). These rice rats were captured in wet habitats adjacent to old mining pits (personal observation, R. D. Owen). The specimens are in the mammal collection at OMNH (specimens 13968, 13969, and 13971).

On 25 October 1988, Stephen L. Dunham recovered a subadult male rice rat that had been captured by a domestic cat near Cedar Crest Lake in Mayes County (Fig. 1, No. 8). This observation extends the known northern distributional limit for rice rats in Oklahoma. The specimen is in the vertebrate collection at Northeastern Oklahoma State University (Stephen Dunham, specimen #7) in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.


Field work was supported by the Oklahoma Biological Survey. Thanks go to Mr. Bryce Todd, Superintendent, Lake Murray State Park, for permission to live-trap in the park, Stephen Dunham and Dr. Everett Grigsby for access to the specimen in Mayes County, Robert D. Owen for access to field notes, and Gary D. Schnell for reading the manuscript.


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1.   Whitaker, H.L., Occurrences of the Texas Rice Rat in Oklahoma. J. Mammal. 18, 102 (1937).

2.   McCarley, W.H., The Ecological Relationships of the Mammals of Bryan County, Oklahoma. Tex. J. Sci. 4, 102-112 (1952).

3.   McCarley, W.H., The Rice Rat in Southern Oklahoma. J. Mammal. 41, 130-131 (1960).

4.   McCarley, W.H., New Locality Records for Some Oklahoma Mammals. Southwest. Nat. 6, 108 - 109 (1961).

5.   Caire, W., Tyler, J.D., Glass, B.P., and Mares, M.A., The Mammals of Oklahoma, Univ. Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK (1989) pp. 214-215.