|destructive long-haired burrowing rat of southern North America and Central America|
any of 10 species of terrestrial rodents found from the southern United States to northern South America. Cotton rats are stout-bodied with small ears, and their coarse, grizzled coats range from grayish brown to dark brown mixed with buff. All species live in natural grassland habitats ranging from coastal marshes to mountain meadows. They also inhabit cultivated fields where grass or crops are sufficiently tall and dense to afford protection from predators. Active day and night, cotton rats use extensive surface trails through the grass that connect their fibrous nests, which they construct at the base of shrubs or in the burrows of other animals. Eating mostly plant materials, they can become serious agricultural pests, especially in plantations of sugarcane and vegetable crops
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