Welcome to our website, dear readers. When you think of rodents, what animal comes to mind? More than sure it’s a rat or a mouse. In fact, there are many more rodents on our planet and not all of them, like rats or mice, are pests. Moreover, some representatives of this order of mammals are the cutest creatures and the most beloved pets. Rodents are chipmunks, ground squirrels, guinea pigs, hamsters, etc. The list can be continued indefinitely.
And today we decided to take a closer look at this detachment of mammals. In the article we have collected the most interesting facts about rodents.
They belong to the class of vertebrates – Mammalia (Mammalia). In this class, the order Rodentia (Rodents) is the most numerous, numbering more than 2000 species (which is about 40% of all mammalian species).
Representatives of this order are found in huge numbers on all continents except Antarctica.
Ecologically, this is an incredibly diverse squad. For example, some species spend their entire lives above the ground, equipping their shelters in trees (squirrels, flying squirrels, etc.). Others, on the contrary, are more adapted to life on earth and arrange their shelters underground (gray rats, voles, shrews, etc.). Some species prefer to live near water (beaver, muskrat, etc.), others prefer to settle in deserts (jerboa, ground squirrel, etc.).
They cannot boast of a high life expectancy. The average life expectancy of many rodents does not exceed 1-4 years. Only some larger members of the order can live up to 20 years or more, such as beavers or porcupines. The oldest recorded rodent was the Sumatran crested porcupine, which lived to be 27 years and 3 months old.
Their sizes vary greatly. The largest representative of this order is the capybara (aka capybara), which can grow up to 134 centimeters in length and have a body weight of up to 66 kg.
The title of the smallest rodent went to the Balochistan jerboa. Its average body length is only 4.4 cm, and the body weight of adults is only 3.75 grams.
They are characterized by one pair of constantly growing incisors in each of the upper and lower jaws. So that their teeth do not become critically long, they need to constantly gnaw something to grind them down (wood, grain, etc.). And it is not surprising that this detachment was named that way.
They usually have a very well developed sense of smell, hearing and vision. Nocturnal rodents often have enlarged eyes, and some species are sensitive to ultraviolet radiation.
Some species have so-called “cheek pouches”. These bags are a specific morphological feature of animals used by them to store food. Kangaroo rats, hamsters, chipmunks and ground squirrels have such pouches.
Most species of this order are herbivores and feed exclusively on plant foods such as plant seeds, leaves, flowers, root crops, etc. A minority are omnivores. There are also exceptional predators, for example, the same grasshopper hamsters, whose diet includes small invertebrates, including insects.
Many rodents are hoarders. That is, they collect much more food than they can eat. They hide this food in reserve to feast on it in the worst of times.
We all know such an expression as “breed like rabbits.” But given the way some rodents reproduce, it would be more accurate to say “reproduce like rodents.” For example, if we talk about house mice, then they give from 6 to 8 cubs in one litter (sometimes 10). The gestation period is only 19-20 days. In a year, one house mouse can give birth 5-10 times. If we talk about its life expectancy, then in street conditions it is in the region of 12 months, and in conditions of living in a house it can be from 2 to 3 years. In this case, one mouse can give birth to up to 300 new individuals in its life.
The brown rat, which in one litter can give up to 22 cubs, has also gone not far.
Some species of rodents have a very fast metabolism, so they need to eat at least 20 times a day.
An adult mouse has a heart rate of 632 beats per minute (plus or minus 51 beats per minute). By comparison, the human heart, on average, beats 60 to 100 times per minute.
Some species of rodents are able to navigate in the dark using their sense of touch. They rhythmically touch and tap their vibrissae (whiskers) on objects to determine the object’s size, shape, orientation, and texture.
The largest rodent that ever lived on our planet was Josephoartigasia monesi, a rodent from the Pacaranidae family. He lived on Earth from 2 to 4 million years ago, during the Pleistocene and Pliocene epochs. According to some estimates, this mammal was about 3 meters in height and had a body weight of almost 1000 kg.
Since ancient times, rodents have been a popular source of meat for humans. And although today their meat has gone far into the background, in some countries they are still present in the diet of ordinary people. For example, they are eaten in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Indonesia, etc.
They play an important role in many ecosystems. Due to their rapid reproduction, they become the most important food source for many predatory animals. They also carry seeds, allowing plants to colonize new areas, and spread various diseases.
Rodents that feed on cereals are serious pests. They destroy not only growing crops, but already harvested crops. In Asia, rodents are one of the main factors limiting rice production.
This concludes our article, dear readers. Thank you for paying attention to our Internet resource.