Meet Perky, the Sunny Southeast Region’s loveable rat mascot! Here you can follow Perky’s travels and adventures, or scroll down to read her fascinating history. Do you have photos of Perky to share on this page? Please e-mail them to the webmaster!
Perky the Rat
NAI Sunny Southeast Ambassador
WHERE’S PERKY NOW?
PERKY, OUR SUNNY SOUTHEAST MASCOT, HAS FOUND HER IDENTITY!
Hi, my name is Perky. I’m an Eastern woodrat. My proper scientific name is Neotoma floridana. Don’t confuse me with those European black rats or Norway rats, who got lost and ended up over here. I’m a sho’ nuff southern native. My clan lives all over the Sunny Southeast Region. Notice my coloration–a nice tawny- brownish fur on my back and sides, and my pristine white belly fur with dainty white feet and little pink toes. Check out my tail. It’s not a naked scaly tail like those pesky European rats. My tail is bi-colored with a lovely soft fur that’s brown on top and white underneath.
If you saw the nest I build and we were out west you would probably call me a pack rat because just like my western cousins I like to find a nice secure rock crevice, a thicket, or a hollow log and stuff it full of all kinds of things –sticks and leaves mostly–but I also love to a collect interesting things like bones, feathers, bottle caps, shotgun shells, and pieces of plastic. When I’m around humans I love to build my nest in their sheds and barns, and boy do they get ticked when I make a nest under the hood of one of those parked cars!
Inside my pile I shred up plant fibers and build myself a cozy little bed, and nearby I create a latrine area (I’m very sanitary), as well as some places to store food like acorns, nuts, and berries. (I’m primarily a vegetarian, though I occasionally munch a few insects and mushrooms) .
I’m generally solitary but I do get together a few times a year with that nice smelling male down the trail. We have small litters–usually just two or three babes. (They call them pups, though I can assure you, we are NOT dogs! We are rats and proud of it!) And those young’ uns are quite attached to their mama –literally!—sometimes when I’m out foraging those little ones bounce along still attached to my teats. Lemme tell you, motherhood takes a lot of devotion!
My big heaped up nest offers me good protection from the elements and pretty good protection from predators as well. By the time a fox or coyote tears into my nest I’ve usually slipped out the back door. However rat snakes, rattlesnakes, and those slinky weasels are a big problem. And those feral cats! Down in Key Largo my subspecies cousin the Key Largo wood rat (N. floridana smalli) is about to be wiped out by those cats. And our northern cousins the Allegheny or Appalachian woodrats (Neotoma magister) have been wiped out of much of their former range but they are hanging on in the mountains Of course habitat destruction is a problem everywhere, but in general we’re holding on pretty well. And me? I’m Perky as ever!