Rodents are what most people would refer to as a nuisance to human existence, while to some they (rodents) may be one of the most loveable creatures on earth. Well, all these choices depend on the type of rodent involved and past experiences with these guys (its all a personal opinion).
Now follow us on this advanced info-filled, research-based journey (presented in the form of an article for you the viewer to enjoy) to the land of the rodents as we list out all the rodents, everything about each of them and lot more other things you’ll like to discover about these guys.
Are they pests? Are they pets? What is their rate of intelligence? well, why don’t you find out yourself!
What Is a Rodent?
A rodent is a small, gnawing mammal of the order Rodentia notable for its constantly strong growing incisors and no canine teeth. These mammals are so great that they constitute about 40% of the population of mammals in the world. Most rodents have small robust bodies, short limbs, and long tails. They are endowed with sharp incisors to gnaw food, shovel burrows, and protect themselves from danger.
Over the years these creatures have appeared to serve useful purposes and also serve as a nuisance to mankind i.e pests/pets, theses useful purposes include: They could be served as food, their skin can be used in the sewing of cloth material, for laboratory research purposes, as pets and many lots more.
Rodents have seemed to be the largest most classified order of mammals as there are over thousands of rodents all over the world. Do you want to find out more? then, keep journeying!
Characteristics Of Rodents
- Rodents have one pair of incisors each on the upper and lower jaw.
- The incisors of rodents keep growing continuously.
- There is a very large gap between the incisors of rodents.
- Rodents lack the relatively sharp-pointed teeth usually found in humans, dogs, etc known as the canine teeth.
- The incisors of these rodents usually wear down as they lack enamels on the back of their tooth.
- Their forelimbs usually have 5 digits while their hindlimbs usually have digits ranging from 3-to-5 digits.
- A majority of the specie move on both palms and feet which are heavily endowed with sharp claws.
- Rodents use a wide variety of methods of locomotion including quadrupedal walking (using all four feet for walking), running, burrowing, climbing, bipedal hopping (using only two legs), swimming, and even gliding.
- Most rodents have tails which help in balancing while running and locomotion (as in beavers).
- Many of these species have long whiskers mainly for sensitivity.
- Most species have a penis bone, the baculum.
- Males are bigger than the females or the reverse is the case depending on the specie of rodent involved.
Another curtailing question is, where do these pets/pests live?
Well, the shocking answer is that rodents are found everywhere in the world except Antarctica.
- Rodents can be found living in trees, examples of such rodents are the tree squirrel and the new world porcupines.
- They can be found underground, examples of these burrowing rodents are the mole rats and the gophers.
- What’s more amazing is they also live in water, that is, they are aquatic. An example of an aquatic rodent is the earless water rat. While some are semi-aquatic, examples of these rodents include the beavers, muskrats, etc.
- Most commonly rodents are found even in human homes (the arctic, cupboard, wardrobe, roof, etc), farms, etc and serve as a great nuisance to our homes and farm crops.
Feeding in Rodents
Rodents feed on almost anything but not everything. Most rodents are herbivorous, that is they feed on plant parts (leaves, flowers, stem, seeds, and roots), some are omnivorous, that is they feed on both plants and animals and some are predators, that is they hunt other animals for food. Of course, you wouldn’t need to be told that they can’t hunt animals way bigger than them.
The most popular species of herbivorous rodents are guinea pigs and chinchillas. Having them as pets would require feeding them commercial pellets, besides fruits and vegetables, and supplement their diet with high-quality hay. In the case of fresh food, it is advisable that only suitable types of vegetables and fruits are provided otherwise digestive problems may arise. Another measure that you can take is simply letting fresh forages sit and dry for a couple of hours after cutting them before feeding to the rodent.
Make sure that you feed guinea pigs with food specifically for them since that for mice, rabbits or rats don’t have the same level of vitamin C. You can also see to this need by providing them with green leafy vegetables and fruits.
But how about those who live in the wild. The field vole is a popularly known herbivorous rodent and feeds on grasses, moss, root tubers, herbs, etc it also gnaws on bark during the winter. Although it occasionally feeds on invertebrates such as insect larvae. The plains pocket gopher is another herbivorous rodent and feeds on plant parts found underground during burrowing, and also collects grasses, roots, and tubers in its cheeks and stores them underground.
This means that this specie of rodents feeds on both plants and meat, examples include the rats, mice, and gerbils. These guys feed on insects and soft-bodied invertebrates, aquatic insects, fish, crustaceans, mussels, snails, frogs, birds’ eggs, and water birds. The grasshopper mouse from dry regions of North America feeds on insects, scorpions, and other small mice, and a small part of its diet is plant material. This rodent has a thick body with short legs and tail, but is agile and can easily overpower prey as large as itself. Amazing right?
Mating in Rodent
Most living things mate before reproduction, and the rodent is no exception.
Mating in rodents classifies them into 3 different types, which are the:
This specie of rodent carries out monogamous mating in which both male and female look after the offspring after mating (obligate monogamy) and essential care is given to the offsprings as the male is only attached to one female. In some other monogamous rodents, the male doesn’t have to directly care for the offspring and attach to one female (facultative monogamy) because of spatial dispersion. Examples of the rodents that practice monogamous mating are the Oldfield mice, Malagasy giant rats, and beavers.
In polygynous mating, one male mates with multiple females but each female only mates with a single male. In this system, males tend to defend and mount areas where resources capable of attracting females are and when females have been attracted the males monopolize them and mate with them (defensive polygyny). Some other specie of polygynous rodents are not defensive and just wander around in search of females to monopolize and mate with. This occurs in some Tree Squirrels.
In this system of mating both the male and the female rodent mate with multiple rodents. The female reproduces offsprings with multiple paternity.
The Intelligence of a Rodent
Rodents are very sensitive animals, as they can avoid poison baits, are capable of remembering pathways to a food source and can even locate a food source due to spatial memory.
This is known as cognitive ability and has made rodents serve as a means of research and learning purposes to human beings. Examples of these rodents are the Guinea pig, Brown rat, Kangaroo rat, etc The brown rat has the ability to consider its own learning and then make decisions based on what it knows. This makes them the first animals other than primates known to have this capacity, but these findings are disputed, since the rats may have been following simple operant conditioning principles or a behavioral economic model. Brown rats use social learning in a wide range of situations, but perhaps especially so in acquiring food preferences.
Rodents belong to the order Rodentia gotten from the word Rodens meaning -to gnaw. This order can be divided into Suborders, Infraorders, Superfamilies, and families.
- Family Anomaluridae: scaly-tailed squirrels
- Family Pedetidae: springhares
- Superfamily Castoroidea
- Family Castoridae: beavers
- Family Geomyidae: pocket gophers (true gophers)
- Family Heteromyidae: kangaroo rats, kangaroo mice
- Infraorder Ctenodactylomorphi
- Family Ctenodactylidae: gundis
- Family Bathyergidae: African mole-rats
- Family Hystricidae: Old World porcupines
- Family Petromuridae: dassie rat
- Family Thryonomyidae: cane rats
- Family Heptaxodontidae: giant hutias
- Family Abrocomidae: chinchilla rats
- Family Capromyidae: hutias
- Family Caviidae: cavies, including Guinea pigs and the capybara
- Family Chinchillidae: chinchillas, viscachas
- Family Ctenomyidae: tuco-tucos
- Family Dasyproctidae: agoutis
- Family Cuniculidae: pacas
- Family Dinomyidae: pacaranas
- Family Echimyidae: spiny rats
- Family Erethizontidae: New World porcupines
- Family Myocastoridae: coypu (nutria)
- Family Octodontidae: octodonts
Infraorder Incertae sedis
- Family Diatomyidae: Laotian rock rat
- Suborder Myomorpha
- Superfamily Dipodoidea
- Family Dipodidae: jerboas and jumping mice
- Family Calomyscidae: mouse-like hamsters
- Family Cricetidae: hamsters, New World rats, and mice, muskrats, voles, lemmings
- Family Muridae: true mice and rats, gerbils, spiny mice, crested rat
- Family Nesomyidae: climbing mice, rock mice, white-tailed rat, Malagasy rats, and mice
- Family Platacanthomyidae: spiny dormice
- Family Spalacidae: mole rats, bamboo rats, zokors
- Family Aplodontiidae: mountain beaver
- Family Gliridae (also Myoxidae, Muscardinidae): dormice
- Family Sciuridae: squirrels, including chipmunks, prairie dogs, marmots
List of Rodents
Below is a list of most of the rodents you probably know and the ones you haven’t even heard of:
Hamsters are rodents of the order Rodentia belonging to the subfamily Cricetinae, which contains 18 species classified in seven genera.
Rats are various medium-sized, long-tailed rodents. Species of rats are found throughout the order Rodentia, but stereotypical rats are found in the genus Rattus.
Chinchillas are slightly larger and more robust than ground squirrels and belong to either of the two species (Chinchilla chinchilla and Chinchilla lanigera) of crepuscular rodents of the parvorder Caviomorpha.
Squirrels are members of the family Sciuridae, a family that includes small or medium-size rodents. The squirrel family includes tree squirrels, ground squirrels, chipmunks, flying squirrels, and prairie dogs amongst other rodents.
The beaver belongs to the genus Castor and is a large semiaquatic rodent. Beavers are known for building dams, canals, and lodges.
The coypu also referred to as the Nutria, is a large, herbivorous, semiaquatic rodent.
A gerbil is a small mammal of the subfamily Gerbillinae in the order Rodentia and was once known as desert rats.
The mus is a small rodent characteristically having a pointed snout, small rounded ears, a body-length scaly tail, and a high breeding rate.
Agouti refers to several rodent species of the genus Dasyprocta. They are native to Middle America, northern and central South America.
The blesmol native to Africa is a burrowing rodent of the family Bathyergidae.
The gopher is a burrowing rodent of the family Geomyidae.
Rodents are a very large species of animals on earth and are the largest order in the world. Below is a list of some other rodents you may want to know.
- Red-crested Tree mouse
- Guinea pig
- Lowland Paca
- Cane rat
- Flying mouse
- Old world Porcupine
- New world porcupine
- Kangaroo rat
- Bamboo rat
- Kangaroo mouse
Rodents as pets/pests
Rodents can be very nasty, disturbing creatures that whenever you see you’ll want to smash, but at the same time these creatures could be loveable depending on the specie of rodent involved.
Rodents cause destruction to plant crops in the farms, destroy household furniture and run around houses causing noise and disturbance as well.
Having them as pets also could be very difficult to maintain and feed.
So the choice is left for you to decide, would you want these guys as pets? or will you take them as pests? the ball is in your court.
Discussing rodents has been a very interesting topic and you the viewer obviously enjoyed it. Rodents are at a constantly decreasing rate in the world and need to be conserved to preserve these loveable creatures of creation. So why don’t you help conserve them!