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Are Rabbits Rodents?

Oliver Jones

The rodent class of animals is a small, gnawing animal that has incisors and no canine teeth. Specifically, they have two pairs of incisors, which continue to grow throughout their lives. Although rabbits do not have any canine teeth and meet other criteria to be considered rodents, they have four incisors on the top row of teeth. Therefore, rabbits are part of the lagomorph order and are not part of the Rodentia order—not classifying them as rodents.

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What Qualifies As a Rodent?

The rodent is classified as a gnawing mammal that has two pairs of incisors and does not have any canine teeth. This layout of teeth makes it easy for animals like the mouse to gnaw on food and objects.

The rodent is the largest order of animals, and it is estimated that nearly half of all mammal species are rodents. There are approximately 1,500 species of mammals alive today.

Rodents can be found on all continents except Antarctica.

Examples of Rodents

The Rodentia family includes popular and widely recognized species like the mouse and the rat. Other common species include beavers, porcupines, squirrels, and capybara. Species of rodents include:

  • Mouse – The mouse is a small species of rodent. Although there are many species, most share certain characteristics and have a pointed nose, round ears, and a tail that is roughly the same length as its body. The most common species is the house mouse. Other common species include the field mouse and wood mouse. The house mouse has been bred for 200 years as a pet, and they tend to have a bigger body and longer ears than their wild counterparts.
  • Rat – The rat is another common rodent pet. It is considered a medium-sized rodent and rats are generally larger than mice. They have long tails, which can detach from the body if they are pulled too hard or held too tight. The rat is considered a popular pet because it is intelligent, and in some cases may even learn to respond to its name. They enjoy being stroked and handled, too. However, some people are put off the rat by the length and feel of its tail.
  • Pygmy Jerboa – The pygmy jerboa is the world’s smallest rodent species. It weighs just 3 grams and measures approximately 2 inches in length. Its tail, however, can reach a length of 10 inches. Native to Afghanistan and Pakistan, the species lives in the desert and uses its long tail for balance. It burrows, lives on seeds, and feeds itself by lifting food to the mouth using the front paws.
  • Capybara – The capybara is the world’s largest living rodent. It lives in South America and can grow to 25 inches long and can weigh more than 125 pounds. The capybara is a herbivore and lives off aquatic plants, grasses, and even sugar cane. Although they are much larger than other rodents, they behave similarly to guinea pigs and cavies. They do share one characteristic with rabbits—they eat their own feces to ensure that they get as much nutrition from their food as possible.
mouse
Image Credit: Roland Kuck, Pixabay

What Are Rabbits?

Although rabbits share a lot of characteristics with various members of the Rodentia class, they are not rodents. They are part of the Lagomorph family, and they differ from rodent species by their dental anatomy. Like rodents, rabbits have four upper incisors compared to the rodents’ two. This is the only difference, so while rabbits are very similar to rodents, they are not rodents.

Other Qualities of The Lagomorph

Lagomorphs are all herbivores. Their incisors continue to grow throughout their lives, which is also true of rodents and they have a gap between their incisors and the teeth by their cheeks. The only living families in the lagomorph order are rabbits and hares, and pikas. Species within these families include European rabbits, European hares, American pikas, and dozens of others.

European Rabbit
Image Credit: Pixabay

About the Rabbit

The rabbit is a small mammal. It tends to be very clean, which makes them a great choice for a family pet and even as a house pet. With socialization, some rabbits can be very friendly with their human owners, and enjoy bonding with people.

They are sociable animals, usually preferring to live with other rabbits. If you let your rabbit have the run of the house, keeping two or more together could help you protect furniture and other items against the incredible gnawing of a solitary, bored rabbit’s teeth.

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Are Rabbits Rodents?

Rodents are the largest order of small mammals, and one of the most common of all animal types. Rabbits, however, are not a part of the rodent family and are, in fact, a member of the Lagomorph order of animals.

While rabbits are not rodents, they do make excellent pets, and they do share a lot of similar characteristics to their rodent counterparts.


Featured Image Credit: A Beijeman, Pixabay

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.