I was driving home from Sebastopol along Occidental Road and noticed a small mammal (dead) in the middle of the road. I wasn't that interested in leaving it there to be run over by cars, and I was also curious about what type of mammal it was. So I pulled over and walked back to move it off to the side of the road.
Before departing, I took a few quick photos for the record.
When I realized it was some type of rat, I looked up the main differences between a Norway Rat (Rattus norvegicus) and another species that I know occurs in this area, Dusky-footed Woodrat (Neotoma fuscipes).
Some differences between them include the following: (1) Norway Rats are grayer underneath, while woodrats are paler; (2) Norway Rats have tails shorter than their body lengths, while woodrats have tails longer than their bodies; (3) Norway Rats have "naked" tails with obvious scales, while woodrats have furry tails.
Here's a series of pictures of the small mammal I found on the road. I should warn you — although this rat is in good condition, if you don't want to see images of a road-killed mammal, look no further.
This rat's body was about 7 inches long and its tail was about 9 inches long. It was pale underneath. Its tail was furry. These characteristics made me lean towards this being a Dusky-footed Woodrat. However, I was bothered that the hairs on top of the hindfeet didn't appear that "dusky." Does this character vary? Or am I wrong about this identification? Let me know what you think.
P.S. Dusky-footed Woodrats are also known as "packrats." They build intriguing houses and are famous for collecting all sorts of trinkets. The National Wildlife Federation has a basic fact sheet about them here.