The proper common name is Eastern woodrat (Neotoma floridana). The name many Kansas people use when referring to this native rodent is the pack rat. Another less common name is the trade rat.
Two species of woodrats are found in Kansas. One is the Eastern woodrat (Neotoma floridana) and the other is the gray woodrat (Neotoma micropus). The Eastern woodrat's range in Kansas is east and north of the Arkansas River. The range of the gray woodrat is south and west of the Arkansas River. Both woodrats are similar in appearance and behavior.
The adult woodrat is brownish-grey mixed with black on the upper side of its body. The throat, belly and feet are white. The total length of the adult varies from 12 to 17 inches and its weight from 6 to 12 ounces. Woodrats are active at night.
Woodrats are thought to have a longer lifespan than most other rats. In captivity a woodrat lived 4 years and in the wild they have been known to live 3 years.
Another reason for this belief is that woodrats have a lower reproductive rate than the other rats. Rats with a high reproductive rate generally have shorter lifespans.