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Home > Rabbits > Are Rabbits Rodents? Classification Explained

Are Rabbits Rodents? Classification Explained

rabbit with ears pointing outward

The rodent class of animal is a small, gnawing mammal 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 their teeth. Therefore, rabbits are part of the Lagomorpha order and are not part of the Rodentia order, which means rabbits are not classified as rodents.


What Qualifies an Animal 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 the animal to gnaw on food and objects.

Rodentia 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.

Image Credit: Roland Kuck, Pixabay

Examples of Rodents

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

  • Mouse — The mouse is a small species of rodent. Although there are many types of mice, most share certain characteristics, including a pointed nose, round ears, and a tail that is roughly the same length as the 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 it tends 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 hairless tails. 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 cuddled and handled too. However, some people are put off the rat due to 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 its mouth using its front paws.
  • Capybara — The capybara is the world’s largest living rodent. It lives in South America and can grow to be 25 inches long and weigh more than 125 pounds. The capybara is a herbivore and lives off aquatic plants, grasses, and even sugar cane. Although capybara are much larger than other rodents, they behave similarly to guinea pigs and cavies. They do share one characteristic with many other rodents: They eat their own feces to ensure that they get as much nutrition from their food as possible.


What Are Rabbits?

Although rabbits share a lot of characteristics with various members of the Rodentia order, they are not rodents. They are part of the Lagomorpha order, and they differ from rodent species by their dental anatomy. Rabbits have four upper incisors compared to the rodents’ two. They’re also exclusively herbivores, while some rodents are omnivores.

rabbits eating blueberries
Image Credit: Abdul N Quraishi – Abs, Shutterstock

Other Qualities of the Lagomorphs

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 Lagomorpha order are rabbits, hares, and pikas. Species within these families include European rabbits, European hares, American pikas, and dozens of others.

About the Rabbit

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

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 power of a bored solitary rabbit’s teeth.


In Summary

Rodentia is 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 a member of the Lagomorpha order of animals.

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

Featured Image Credit by: A Beijeman, Pixabay

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