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Rodents

Rodents are mammmals characterized by two continuously growing incisors in the upper and lower jaws which must be kept short by gnawing.

Forty percent of mammal species are rodents, and they are found in vast numbers on all continents other than Antarctica. Common rodents include mice, rats, squirrels, chipmunks, gophers, porcupines, beavers, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, degus, chinchillas, prairie dogs, and groundhogs. Rodents have sharp incisors that they use to gnaw wood, break into food, and bite predators. Most eat seeds or plants, though some have more varied diets. Some species have historically been pests, eating stored human seeds and spreading disease.

In terms of number of species although not necessarily in terms of number of organisms (population) or biomass rodents make up the largest order of mammals. There are about 2,277 species of rodents with over 40 percent of mammalian species belonging to the order. Their success is probably due to their small size, short breeding cycle, and ability to gnaw and eat a wide variety of foods.

Rodents are found in vast numbers on all continents except Antarctica, most islands, and in all habitats except oceans. They are the only placental order, other than bats (Chiroptera) and Pinnipeds, to reach Australia without human introduction.


 

 
 
   
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