Rodents are mammals that are characterized by a single pair of front teeth that keep growing throughout their lifetime. They make up 40% of all mammal species.
They can be found in large numbers in six continents excluding Antarctica. Due to their survival instincts that allow them to survive in the wild and in human-made environments, they are considered as the most diversified mammalian species out there.
They are also characterized by their affinity to burrow and dig in the ground to make homes for themselves or search for food sources. They usually have small bodies and long tails.
Most rodents survive on a diet of plant material like nuts or fruits, or seeds, but some can have varied diets such as a predisposition towards meat and dairy products.
Why feature the different types of rodents on a home and garden site?
Because, rodents can be a nuisance in and around the home.
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Rats are the most commonly identified rodents in the world. They are easily differentiated from mice due to their size and color. They have grey fur and long tails. Most common rodents discovered in houses and commercial buildings are usually referred to as rats. The term has acquired a negative connotation throughout history due to rats being the carriers of the bubonic plague which is also known as the Black Death.
Mus is a genus of rodents that are usually referred to as mice. Though they can relate to other species of rodents, mice are generally some of the most well-known rodent species in the world. A mouse is a small rodent with a high breeding rate and can be found in the wild as well as in domestic settings. They are kept as pets and are known to be common animals for medical experimentation.
Hamsters are known most commonly kept as house pets, especially in the western hemisphere. They are considered some of the cutest rodent species out there. They are characterized as being small and fat and come in several different colors. They have short tails, and their feet are covered with thick fur. They are quite fragile and are susceptible to changes in temperature, both hot and cold. They have poor eyesight and are colorblind. They use their sense of smell to locate food and differentiate between the sexes.
Squirrels are commonly known as wild rodents that are found in forests and jungles, but also in gardens and parks. Several types of squirrels such as tree squirrels, ground squirrels, flying squirrels, chipmunks, and marmots exist and can be found in different parts of the world. They usually have a bushy tail and live in trees. They have a diet that consists of various types of nuts that they are habitual of storing in trees or in the ground.
A chinchilla has the densest coat of fur of any mammal living on land. It is only beaten by the sea otter which has a denser coat. It has become quite rare due to excessive hunting in the 19th century and can be found in southwestern South America. They live in burrows and crevices within rocks and can jump very high up to six feet. They are usually considered prey for hawks and falcons, skunks, felines, snakes and canines.
Gerbils similar to hamsters are considered as popular house pets. They aren’t considered aggressive, and they rarely bite unless provoked. They are small and easy to handle and are very sociable. They have a very specialized excretory system that has developed to conserve fluids and minimize waste. This makes them very clean pets and hence, considered as one of the cutest rodents. Gerbils have a thick coat of fur, small ears, and small toes. They have long tails which make up half of their total length
Beavers are usually found in the wild and have a very distinctive appearance. They have a flat, hardtail, with hunched backs and protruding noses. They usually have brown fur and build dams on the river. They are the second largest rodents on earth after the capybara. Their populations have declined sharply over the years due to them being hunted for their glands and fur. The former are used for medicine and perfumes, and the latter are used for clothing.
its excessive feeding and burrowing. Its endurance is considered pestilential to human occupation. It can be recognized immediately by its dark coat of fur around the body, white patch of fur around the mouth, and protruding orange teeth.
Gophers are common to North and Central America. They are known to tunnel excessively and live in holes. They weigh around half a pound and grow to about 6 to 8 inches in length. They can live for up to three years on average and 5 years at maximum. However, some have been documented in the wild to be as much as 7 years old. They have a brown fur coat that matches the color of the soil they live in. They are recognized by the large cheek pouches they have and their small hairy tails.
The agouti is a species of rodent closely related to guinea pigs. They look very similar but have longer legs and are larger in size. They have come in different colors of fur such as reddish, brown, orange, grayish, blackish, etc. They can grow up to be 24 inches in length and have brown fur on their backs and white fur on their bellies.
A lemming is a small rodent that is found in cold places like the frozen tundra. Lemmings usually measure around 5-7 inches in length and weigh around 20 to 30 grams. They have a rounded shape and are brown and black in color. They have a short tail and a hairy snout. They have short legs and small ears. They eat plants and moss but can also forage for berries and bulbs.
The Dormouse is known for its long periods of hibernation. It has a particularly long tail compared to its body and can cling to small plants quite easily due to its lightweight. They are lightly furry, and agile. They are omnivorous so they can feast on berries, fruits, flowers, and insects. They lack premolars, but their dental formula is similar to squirrels. The Dormouse gained popularity amongst the masses due to Lewis Carroll’s classic novel, Alice in Wonderland.
The Muroids are a large family of rodents that include hamsters, gerbils, rats, and voles. They can be found across six continents barring Antarctica. They consist of six families, 19 subfamilies, and around 1750 species.
Cavies are a family of rodents that are exclusively found in South America. They include the largest living rodent, the Capybara, and can be found across the moist savanna to the thorn forests and scrub deserts. They have heavy bodies and large heads, and almost none of them have tails. They range in size from cavies at 22 centimeters to the capybara at 134 centimeters.
These are a subfamily of rodents that include muskrats and lemmings. They are the most populous group of rodents in the northern hemisphere and are found in fossil occlusions of bones cached by predators like owls and other birds of prey. Their fossils are often used for dating archaeological sites in North America and Europe. Their molars are particularly fascinating, having cusps in the shape of alternating triangles.
The Octodon Degu is a rodent found in Chile. It is larger than a golden hamster but smaller than a fancy rat. It is a small animal, 25 to 31 centimeters in length and 400g in weight. It has yellow-brown fur and has creamy yellow fur below the belly. Its tail is thin, with a tufted, black tip, and dark, sparsely furred ears. Its hind feet are bristled, and its check teeth are shaped like the number eight, which is why it’s called an octodon degu.
The lowland paca is a large rodent that is found in Central America and South America. It is closely related to the agouti and has coarse fur. It has dark brown to black fur on the upper body and lighter, yellowish fur on the belly. It has three to 5 rows of white spots on the sides which are covered by dark grey fur. It can weigh between 6 to 12 kilos and can live to about 13 years. They reach maturity at about the age of a year.
The Peromyscus, which is most commonly referred to as the deer mouse, is one of the so called new world mice because they were found in the newly discovered continent of America. They have larger eyes than normal mice and often have two-tone coloring. They can jump very far in comparison to house mice and can run faster as well. They are prolific carriers of disease, having carried the hantavirus, Lyme disease, and ehrlichiosis.
The Blemosl or the mole rat is a burrowing rodent that is found strictly in Sub Saharan Africa. The fossil forms are restricted to the African Continent. They have cylindrical bodies and short limbs. They can range from 9 to 30 centimeters, and weigh from 30 to 1800 g. Blesmols have reduced eyes and ears compared to other fossorial mammals and have short tails, loose skins, and velvety fur.
The Dipodidae are found in the northern hemisphere and include 50 species including jerboas, jumping mice and birch mice. They are found in deserts, forests, and grasslands. They are up to 26 centimeters in length and are adapted for jumping due to their long hind legs. They can be bipedal and have exceedingly long tails.
The Hutia is a large rat that has made its home in the Caribbean islands. They are considered threatened by the IUCN but do remain common and widespread. They have a length of up to 46 centimeters and weigh less than 2 kg. They have small tails and tout bodies with large heads. They’re herbivorous, but they can consume small animals. They usually nest in trees and crevices instead of burrowing in the ground.
The Kangaroo Rat is native to the western part of North America. It’s given its name due to its bipedal form and its stance that is similar to a kangaroo’s. It hops just like a kangaroo but developed this form of motion independently from that species. It is commonly referred to as a hopping mouse as well. Adult kangaroo rats weigh between 70 g and 170 g and have long tails which are longer than their bodies. They have fur line cheek pouches that can be used to store food. They are usually dark gray or cinnamon-buff depending on the species.
The Pack rat has a rat-like appearance with a long tail and large ears, as well as black eyes. They are larger than deer mice and grasshopper mice and even larger than cotton rats. They resemble overgrown squirrels and are native to the US, Mexico, and the Sonoran desert. They can even be found in the Canadian Rockies.
They usually feed on vegetation, twigs, and shoots. They can also eat seeds, fruits, cacti, and acorns.
The Tuco-tuco is a rodent that is native to South America and North America. They have cylindrical bodies with very short legs, and they range from black to light grey in color. They have long forefeet that they use to burrow and bristled hind feet which they use for grooming. They have large heads, small ears, and hairy tails. They can weigh as light as 100 g or as heavy as a kilogram. They usually live in burrows and spend the vast majority of their lives underground. They represent around 45% of all underground rodents in the world.
Old World Porcupine
The Old World Porcupine, so called because it is found in Africa, India, Europe, and the Levant. It is very different from the New World Porcupine that is found in the US and South America. Surprisingly both of these species are not closely related.
Old World Porcupines usually are stout, but heavily built. They have rounded heads, mobile snouts and a coat of thick, flattened spines which cover their bodies. They aren’t intermingled with ordinary hairs. They are herbivorous, eat fruit and roots and even gnaw on dry bones for calcium. While they are usually docile, if provoked, they can be one of the most dangerous rodents in the world.
The Gundi is a small, stocky rodent that lives in deserts across Africa. It has numerous sub-species that are now extinct. They are still hunted for food. Gundis are small, plump, stout, and have large ears. They can grow from 17 to 18 centimeters and are covered in fur. They have four toes on all their feet, and their hind feet carry comb-like bristles. Hence they are called comb rats as well. They are herbivorous animals which can eat any type of plant. They don’t drink water, obtaining all their moisture from their food.
Cane rats are found in Africa, south of the Sahara desert. They are considered a pest species and are one of the most dangerous rodents in the world for crops. They can range from 35 to 60 centimeters in length and can weigh up to 10 kilograms. They live in marshy areas along river banks and have bristly brown fur, which is speckled with yellow and grey spots. They attain maturity at 6 months of age and reproduce more than once a year to litters of two or four.
Pedetes are a genus of rodent that resembles both squirrels due to their pointed ears and long bushy tail, and also kangaroos due to their long hind legs. They are found in Southern and Eastern Africa and are nocturnal. They sleep through the day in the burrows they dig. They feed on roots and other vegetable matter.
Rodents are found in nature around the world and are considered as pets, pests, and food as well as luxury prey for their furs. They are found in various shapes and sizes and have attained various skills from long jumps to storing food in their cheeks. They are some of the fascinating animals on earth due to the diversity in their ranks, and they have adapted well to both domestic and wild environments.