Small Mammal Monitoring

Sanibel is home to several species of small mammals, including the endemic Sanibel rice rat (Oryzomys palustris sanibeli), which is found nowhere else in the world.

SCCF monitors several remaining swale habitats on the island for the presence and abundance of Sanibel rice rats and hispid cotton rats. We use motion-activated cameras and specially designed traps called Hunt traps, which take a photo of the rat next to a measuring tape and allow them to move in and out freely, without any stress caused by capture. This long-term monitoring program helps us to gauge the health of both our wildlife and our lands.

About Sanibel Rice Rats

  • The Sanibel rice rat is threatened in the state of Florida.
  • Rice rats feed primarily on insects, crabs, and snails, but they also eat plants such as marsh grasses.
  • Historically, Sanibel rice rats inhabited vast cordgrass swales on the island.
  • Lack of fire has caused a reduction in these open grassy swales, negatively affecting their population.
  • Other threats include predation, rodenticide, habitat fragmentation, saltwater inundation, and climate change.
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