This photograph depicted a cotton rat, Sigmodon hispidus, whose habitat includes the southeastern United States, and way down into Central and South America. Its body is larger than the deer mouse, Peromyscus maniculatus, and measures about 5 - 7 inches, which includes the head and body; the tail measures an additional 3 - 4 inches. Its hair is longer and coarser than P. maniculatus, and is a grayish-brown color, sometimes grayish-black. The cotton rat prefers overgrown areas with shrubs and tall grasses.The cotton rat is a hantavirus carrier that becomes a threat when it enters human habitation in rural and suburban areas. Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is a deadly disease transmitted by infected rodents through urine, droppings, or saliva. Humans can contract the disease when they breathe in aerosolized virus.
CDC/ James Gathany
November 3, 2012
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