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Rare species of rodent captured on West Virginia trail camera

On a West Virginia trail in the Allegheny mountains, an elusive rodent considered to be a “sensitive species,” was spotted.

Officials of Monongahela National Forest, a unit of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, posted a video on Facebook last week showing a small creature moving around in the darkness.

The trail camera had captured a 17-inch-long rodent known as an Allegheny woodrat which is on the Regional Forester’s Sensitive Species list, the post said.

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The footage showing the woodrat was recorded on March 12, 2024.

The social media post noted that Allegheny woodrats dwell “primarily in hardwood forests with plenty of rocks and boulders.”

And while the name and size of the creature may allude to a rat, the woodrats are more closely related to mice, according to officials.

The population of Allegheny woodrats is slowly declining in the U.S., with an estimated population of 100,000 in the wild, the U.S. Forest Service reported.

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There is still speculation surrounding the rodent’s decline, but scientists have a few ideas.

allegheny woodrat screenshot

“Many scientists blame the gypsy moth, which harms acorn-bearing oak trees (an important food source for Allegheny woodrats) and habitat degradation,” the U.S. Forest Service wrote in the Facebook post.

In 2018, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considered the Allegheny woodrat to be a “species of concern” and in some states, including Pennsylvania, the rodent is listed as “threatened and protected.”

Common predators of the elusive creature include raccoons, coyotes, weasels, great horned owls and black rat snakes, the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) reported.

“At one time, the Allegheny woodrat’s range extended from southwestern Connecticut west to Indiana and south to northern Alabama. It is now extirpated from Connecticut and New York, studies in remaining northern states document decline, and its status in southern states is unknown because of a shortage of recent surveys,” according to the PGC.

allegheny woodrat split

In 2022, both adult and young Allegheny woodrats were discovered in West Virginia’s Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, making this the first time the animal had been seen for 20 years, the National Park Service wrote.

Prior to the discovery, officials were convinced the rodent had gone extinct in the area and other parts along the Appalachian.

Fox News Digital reached out to the U.S. Forest Service for comment.

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