The eastern woodrat (Neotoma floridana) is considered a generalist herbivore. Only anecdotal evidence suggests that eastern woodrats eat meat given the opportunity. We conducted trials to test whether the eastern woodrat would consume northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) under experimental conditions. We live trapped 27 eastern woodrats in the Flint Hills region of Kansas during Nov. and Dec. 1997. We assigned woodrats to either a control or one of two 108 h experimental treatments. We provided 9 control animals with laboratory rat chow ad libitum, 9 woodrats in treatment 1 with laboratory rat pellets ad lib. and a wild northern bobwhite carcass and 9 woodrats in treatment 2 with a bobwhite carcass only. Woodrats willingly consumed quail in both treatments. Control and treatment 1 woodrats maintained body mass, whereas animals in treatment 2 lost 17% of body mass. Consumption preferences changed temporally. Head and leg/feet of quail were consumed first, muscle second and organs last. We observed no difference in consumption preferences between treatments. We suggest the eastern woodrat may include meat in its food selection when seasonal food resources are limited.
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Vol. 143 • No. 1