Last Updated on October 2, 2021 by Kimberly Crawford
Rodents and humans always had an interesting relationship toward each other. While we consider them dangerous and destructive, it is always inevitable to give them shelter through our homes. It is also quite hard to eliminate them after they have established themselves in our living spaces.
But did you know that there are other types of rodents out there? In this post, we shall look at some of the most common types of rodents as well as some essential FAQs to help in mitigating the problem of their presence.
What are rodents?
Rodents are mammals that are identified because of their single-paired teeth that continuously grow throughout their lifetime.
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.
Some rodents are extinct because of predators present in the living areas but are still high in population as they have different types and species which can be found anywhere throughout the world.
Rodents, though small, have a huge, interesting fact that you probably still do not know. So, we lined up some interesting facts you need to know talking about rodents.
1. Rodents are lurkers
Most rodents enjoy their life outside. Some enjoy the mud, the waters and some enjoy the company of humans.
Mostly nesting outside, on thick shrubs, grasses, fields, and other areas. They are very active animals, can be friendly and dangerous depending on the type, but they are most likely to be just lurking around.
2. Rodents are crazy about chewing
Whatever they feed on, they are crazy chewers. They destroy papers, wiring, cement, brick, wood, clothes and other more through their continuously growing teeth. Plus, with their agility, you cannot catch them even if you see them.
3. Rodents reproduce like crazy
Rodents are excellent when it comes to reproducing. They grow their tribe many times a year so it is really a challenge to eliminate them. Mice can have litters of five or six babies every three weeks and rats can produce litters 15 times per year.
4. Some rodents can swim
Rodents though not all types, can swim and are water lovers. Not a lot of people know about this interesting fact. So, if you are one, you may research the types of rodents which are excellent swimmers. Rodents who are fond of water survive toilet flushing and can walk in waters for a maximum of three days.
5. Rodents don’t throw up
Rodents physically cannot vomit or burp. Unlike humans, Rodents cannot choose what they eat and drink especially those that are found at home that is why poison is the most effective at killing them.
Rodent lifespan is dependent on their type. Some are just more short-lived than others because they are outdoors and in constant exposure to prey. On the other hand, some may live for a year or two while some notable others could live for up to 10 years if the environment is viable or if they are adaptive to their changing environments.
Types of rodents
There are a lot of types of Rodents. Depending on their habitat, features and characteristics, here is the list of the types of rodents which can make you distinguish one from the other.
This type is likened to guinea pigs. They are so much alike but differ in the size of their legs and species size.
This one has longer legs, larger in size, and comes in different colors (red, brown, orange, gray, black and more). They are also best identified through their two tones in their bellies.
This type of rodent is considered to be the most populous one. They are popular with owls and birds because they feed on them.
This type is commonly found in archeological sites, mostly, on the bodies of animal predators. They include muskrats and lemmings as their subtype.
3. Apodemus (wood mouse)
This type is known to be a long-tailed field mouse. They live feeding on grass and other plants but during bad seasons, they move to buildings like that of a home.
They feed on seeds, roots, fruit, and insects and are considered nocturnal and they can be very aggressive during the night.
This one is a more familiar one but we might not know that it is a rodent. They are seen in wild forests and can be determined because of their diverse appearance. They have a flat, hardtail, with hunched backs and protruding noses.
Unfortunately, they have been considered endangered due to excessive hunting through the years. They are mainly hunted for their fur.
5. Blesmol (mole-rats)
This type is also known as the mole rat and is found in tunnels and holes. They are identifiable for their cylindrical bodies and short limbs.
Just like others, this too belongs to the small family of rodents. They have small eyes, ears, tails, loose skins, and velvety fur.
6. Cane Rat
This type belongs to the pest species and are considered most dangerous to crops.
They live in muddy areas and are easily identified because of their large heads, have bristly brown fur, which is speckled with yellow and grey spots and the absence of tail in their bodies. At 6 months, they can already reproduce two or four litters more than once a year.
7. Cavies (Caviidae)
This type of rodent which includes the largest living rodent which is called the Capybara and are found in thorny forests and scrub deserts.
They are identified by their brown fur, which is speckled with yellow and grey spots. Also, They have heavy bodies and large heads, and almost none of them have tails. Cavies attain maturity at 6 months and can reproduce more than once a year to liters of two or four.
Likened to rabbits in appearance, this type of rodent is considered to have the thickest fur compared to any other mammal living on land. They are considered rare nowadays because of continuous hunting.
They live in holes or tunnels and can jump vertically for up to 6ft. It is a prey to hawks and falcons, skunks, felines, snakes and canines. They are known to be playful and very active animals.
8. Chipmunk (Tamias striatus)
This type of rodent are smaller members of the squirrel family. With their characteristics having chubby cheeks, large, glossy eyes, stripes, and bushy, it is no wonder as to why they were chosen as the franchise rodents for Alvin and the Chipmunks.
This type of rodent can be very dangerous to humans as they cause infectious diseases. They are identified through their dark black fur with white patches around their mouths and have orange teeth. They are herbivores, live in burrows, semi-aquatic and are known for excessive feeding.
This type of rodent is also known as the New World Mice. Some of its large species are considered nocturnal and can live above ground, underground or even in trees.
They are also very fond of the water. They are considered herbivores, carnivores and omnivores.
11. Deer Mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus)
This type or also known as Peromyscus is a part of a new world mouse because they are found in newly discovered continents in the United States of America.
They are also considered dangerous as they are virus carriers (i.e. hantavirus, Lyme disease, and ehrlichiosis). They are mainly identified for their large eyes and two-tone colors. They are faster than common mice and they are high jumpers too.
12. Degu (Octodon Degu)
This one is described as smaller than a rat but larger than a golden hamster. As the name suggests, from the word Octo (which means eight), it is identified by the teeth which are number eight in shape.
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.
This type belongs to the large number of species which has 50 species, including jerboas, jumping mice and birch mice.
They are found mainly on the deserts, forests, and grasslands and they are identified because they only have two legs but have exceedingly long tails.
Unlike the lemmings, this type stays inactive in the colds for a period of time. Dormouse are commonly known because of their long periods of hibernation. It has gained popularity for the dormouse character in Alice in Wonderland.
They are known for their agility and are considered omnivorous as they survive in eating plants and animals (e.g insects).
Unlike others, this type does not have thick furs which makes them lightweight. With this, they have the ability to run fast and can cling unto plants because they are not heavy.
This type is also known as spiny rats. This means that they have spiny furs on their backs and rump which they use for protection against predators and the like. They are found mostly in rainforests and described as nocturnal rodents.
This type is likened to hamsters and can also be taken as house pets. These are easy to take care of and are very sociable. They also do not bite unless provoked.
They have a very specialized excretory system that has developed to conserve fluids and minimize waste. They are mainly identified for their thick fur, small ears, small toes and long tails which make up almost their size.
17. Gopher (Geomyidae)
This type can also be found in wild forests and has a life span of 3-5 years although some would say that they get to live for more than 7 years.
They live in tunnels or holes and are recognized because of their cheek pouches and small hairy tails. They are also known for their brown coats of fur, exactly like the color of soil.
18. Groundhog (Marmota monax mouse)
This type of rodent is also known as the woodchuck. They are known for being destructive to gardens.
Groundhogs play an important role maintaining healthy soil in woodland and plain areas. They are very shy, running immediately when they feel they are seen. They are also very large rodents and are known as excellent swimmers.
19. Guinea pig
This type of rodent is so sociable that they require daily interaction. They live domestically and can communicate to humans by making sounds.
When planning to have one, make sure to put a lot of effort in taking care of it as it feeds on high-quality guinea pig food, hay and limited amounts of vegetables and fruits and needs clean water regularly. Their bodies are accustomed to a house temperature making them suitable as a house pet.
Unfortunately, this one has also been tagged as endangered. On the brighter side, they have various species, although rare, so it is a relief to know that they could still be around for the generations to come.
They are desert rodents and are herbivores. They do not drink water and would just consume water from plants.
They are identifiable for their small and stout stature, with large ears, four toes on each foot and have comb-like bristles, hence, their other name, comb rats.
Hamsters are very popular as house pets. They are considered as the cutest type of rodent as it is small and chubby which has many different colors.
Despite having bad eyesight and weak adaptability to changing environments, they are still known for their strong sense of smell in locating food and can also differentiate sexes among humans.
22. House Mouse (Mus domesticus)
This type of rodent is the most seen pests both in domestic and commercial areas. Just like the Roof Rat, it also damages clothing and other properties and contaminates food which can be very dangerous.
These are small animals with large, rounded ears, and a long and almost hairless tail which are found mostly around humans and considered to be dangerous. They live in the ground but usually in the ceiling, walls, and damp, dark locations.
They might be found almost anywhere but they are actually protected by government agencies. They are herbivores, although they could also feed on small insects and animals.
They are identified for their small tails and stout bodies. They are mostly found in trees, rarely on the ground, and are considered as large rats.
24. Kangaroo Rat
Like the name suggests, this type of rodent is likened to a Kangaroo because it only has two legs and they seem alike in their physical features. Perhaps, the only difference is that they are smaller than the real kangaroos.
They develop the skill of hopping just like the kangaroos but in a different motion. They store food in their cheeks and can be identified with their dark gray or cinnamon-buff depending on the species and large tails that are about the size of their bodies. Kangaroo Rats are also popular for its name which is Hopping mouse.
This type loves the cold. They thrive in freezingly cold temperature areas and feed on plants and mosses but sometimes look for berries and bulbs.
These rodents are highly identified by their rounded shape which have small tails, short legs and short ears and are brown and black in color. They belong to the ‘small’ rodent family as their description suggests.
26. Lowland paca (Cuniculus paca)
This type is closely related to the Agouti though they have coarse furs. They can be identified through their dark brown to black fur at their backs and yellow fur on their bellies.
It also has a special feature which is having white spots on their sides that are covered with dark grey fur.
This type is one whole family of rodents. They include hamsters, gerbils, rats, and voles. Since they are part of a huge family, they can be found almost anywhere (cold or in the tropic) and can survive in either water and land.
This type of rodent is a large squirrel in the genus marmota. They are active during summer and cannot be seen in colds or during winter. They feed on plants, hence, herbivores. Marmots are considered to be the heaviest kind of squirrel.
29. Meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus)
This type is also called meadow mouse. These are small mammals who have skills in swimming but have never seen climbing.
They are active throughout the year and love to stay in moist fields of grass and sedge or anywhere with thick covers. They feed on grasses, sedges and other herbaceous plants.
30. Murids (Muridae)
This type of rodent is considered the largest family of mammals. Since they are the most populous kind of rodents, they are found anywhere in the world.
Some of its species are herbivorous and some are omnivorous. Identified mainly by their small sizes and long tails which are longer than them.
31. Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus)
This type of rodent are mostly found in marshes but are also found in wooded areas, lakes, and streams, where they build sizable lodges of cattails, sedges, and other vegetation.
They eat grasses and cattails. During their early years, muskrats are hunted because of their durable, thick furs which are sold and known as the muskrat sold.
32. Norway Rat (Rattus norvegicus)
This type of rodent can be found in brushy areas but is also found in the human population mostly in garbage dumps, open fields, woodlands or anywhere where food is present.
They are an annual problem in their endemic locations because they can be pesky when disturbed.
33. Old World Porcupine (Hystricidae)
This type of rodent can follow instructions well and is submissive but is considered most dangerous when provoked.
It is mainly identified by their rounded heads, mobile snouts and a coat of thick, flattened spines which cover their bodies. Also, this type is solely herbivorous.
34. Pack Rat (woodrat)
This type is likened to the typical rat (in appearance) but has longer tails, large ears and large eyes. Pack rats are larger than deer mice and grasshopper mice and even larger than cotton rats.
They feed on vegetation, twigs, and shoots and can eat seeds, fruits and acorns too. Also, pack rats are described having resemblance to overgrown squirrels.
This type is a combination of squirrels and kangaroos because of their appearance and features. These are considered food for other animals, an animal pest, but can also be a pet.
They are in various shapes and develop skills in long jumping and storing food on their cheeks which are present in domestic and wild environments.
36. Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum)
This type of rodent is considered most sensitive. They easily lose their temper and get upset rapidly. If they do, their flat quills become dangerous as it shoots when feeling threatened.
One special feature is that new quills always grow after they lose the old ones for protection or when there is a need to.
37. Prairie Dog (Cynomys ludovicianus)
This type of rodent is mostly found underground. They are also known to be living near the exits of a burrow as to keep them at post whenever a predator is near or threatens them.
Also, they are known to be friendly rodents as they share food and greet others of their kind with a kiss and rub through their nose.
38. Roof Rat/black rat (Rattus rattus)
This type is also called the black rat or ship rats. As the name suggests, this type of pests finds a home in upper parts of any building. These types of rats are the ones that destroy materials, clothes, and other more.
They are also considered dangerous as they can cause dangerous diseases and can contaminate food which is very harmful when consumed. They are found anywhere in the world as they can thrive both in the cold and the tropical areas.
39. Squirrel (Sciuridae)
This type of rodent is known to be wild rodents and can be found in forests and jungle but is also present in parks and in the gardens.
There are several species of this type of rodent which include tree squirrels, ground squirrels, flying squirrels, chipmunks, and marmots that are found anywhere in the world. Squirrels live in trees and eat nuts as their means of living.
Related: Get Rid of Squirrels in the Garden
This type of rodent has cylindrical bodies and has very short legs. They also have long forefeet which they use to burrow and bristled hind feet which they use for grooming.
They have large heads, small ears, and hairy tails. They love the ground and spend almost their lifetime in it. They represent around 45% underground rodents around the world.
41. Vole (Microtus spp.)
This type is found on grassy areas as they prefer areas that are moist but can also be found in wooded areas. They are known to occupy areas close to roadways and anywhere where grass is present.
They are mostly active 24 hours a day and their kind of activity only changes in terms of temperature, season and other more. Since they are a very active type of rodent, they require a lot of food that causes them a lot of indigestion.
42. Zapodinae (jumping mice)
This type is also called the jumping mouse. They can survive in water as they are considered excellent swimmers. They are commonly found in abandoned burrows or holes by other animals, in heavy bush, in trees and other more.
Jumping mice feed on fungi, fruit, seeds, invertebrates, mollusks and small fishes. When it is cold, they go inactive for a period of time.
Rodent prevention tips
Dealing with rodents has been a challenge to humans as they are not easily taken care of. They are prolific in reproducing, they are very adaptive, and they nibble on almost anything. If you are looking on how to prevent rodents from entering your homes, there are the easiest tips for you to master.
- Seal up. Seal every hole inside and outside your homes. Make sure that there’s no entry point for them not to invade your space. Remember that once they enter the home, there is a high chance of harmful effects they will give. Do not give them a chance to play around and enter your homes.
- Trap up. When dealing with rodents, the most common way of killing them is to trap them with the food they love which makes it easy for homeowners to catch them. Though rodents are very smart, they can smell and observe the things happening around them, many are still killed by the traps humans make as they love to chew, it is inevitable for them to stay away especially when it comes to food.
- Clean up. Whether small or big, few or many, always make sure that there is no food available in the ground or any part that can be reached by rodents. Make sure to make your home as clean and neat as possible. Food in the ground attracts rodents so if they have already invaded your house and found an area for nesting, have an extra effort cleaning the home.
Aside from what we have just covered, there are also some notable FAQs that you should be aware of when it comes to the types of rodents out there. This could help you in further preventive tips and in getting to know the ones that need to be immediately expelled.
How many types of rodents are there?
Mostly non-flying mammals, there are more than 1500 recognized species of rodents in the world. They compose 25% of all the overall number of known living mammals out there. They are categorized into different subspecies, from destructive ones, to house pets, and the like.
What animals are classed as rodents?
Given their range and number, there are more popular rodents because of their number and behavior. Some of these include mice, rats, squirrels, prairie dogs, porcupines, beavers, guinea pigs, and hamsters.
What looks like a rat but bigger?
Nutria or mostly called Coypu. From features to behaviors, they are the most comparable to rats. As a matter of fact, they are mostly called the large rat as they grow from 28-42-inches in length. They are also burlier and with longer tails.
Are lagomorphs rodents?
Historically, they are considered rodents because like rodents, they also have continuously growing teeth. But today, they are already considered two different species, with a long, separated evolutionary histories and now have many recognized differentiations which include the number of incisors present in lagomorphs.
What is the largest rodent alive today?
The largest considered rodent alive up to this date is the capybara or the Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris that is found in South America which weighs about 130 pounds. Some honorable mentions in this category would be the coypu, muskrat, the Patagonian mara and the cape porcupine.
What time of the day are rodents most active?
There is no specific time but they are known to be most active during dusk, late night and dawn. You can spot them or know that they are there through their droppings but it would really be hard to catch them on your own. You would also not want to do that because they carry with them infectious diseases.
What time of the year do mice infestations usually happen?
During the colder months. Their scavenging is limited during the cold months and the harsh outdoor environment could kill them. Hence, during these periods, they find their way into the humid home, and take niches in secluded areas, in the basement, in the ceiling and take food from pantries. This is also the time when they are most prolific in reproduction.
Rodents are very interesting mammals. Indeed, they are on two sides of the extremes since there are types that are overly dangerous while some can be kept as house pets. The diversity that they have and their individual behaviors are enough to keep them striking, always.
Much interest is given to those with larger sizes and those that can be destructive. The destructive ones almost always require professional help. They are great in reproduction and you might not know the extent of their population size without help. Also, be hygienic always if you want to evade their wrath.