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What is a Rodent, and What Isn’t

When you think of rodents, you probably think of the two most common: mice and rats. But what about other critters that seem like they could be rodents? And what is a rodent anyway? Read on to find out the answers to these questions, and find out what is a rodent, and what isn’t. 

So what is a rodent, anyway? 

The dictionary definition of rodent is, “any of the relatively small placental mammals that constitute the order Rodentia, having constantly growing incisor teeth specialized for gnawing”. Now that we have that very formal definition out of the way, let’s see which animals actually qualify–and which don’t. 

Rabbits

Two bunnies nuzzling in gras

While intuitively you might think that rabbits would fall into rodent classification (they are known to gnaw, after all), but according to the University of California Museum of Paleontology, “Rodentia does not include rabbits; rabbits differ from rodents in having an extra pair of incisors and in other skeletal features.”

The Bottom Line: Not a rodent

Squirrels

Squirrel longing and reaching toward camera

Calling a squirrel a rodent while they’re digging through your trash or just generally causing trouble is commonplace, but are they actually rodents. As it so happens, squirrels are part of the Sciuridae family, which is a family that contains small and medium-sized rodents. 

The Bottom Line: A rodent 

Ferrets

Ferret poking its head out of grass

While ferrets look a bit like a large mouse with their similar-looking snouts that come to a point, ferrets are actually weasels, not rodents.

The Bottom Line: Not a rodent

Raccoons

Raccoon staring intently

Raccoons, despite their somewhat similar behavior as far as intrusiveness, are not in fact rodents. 

The Bottom Line: Not a rodent

Bats

Bat perched in tree

Bats have often been nicknamed things like, “flying rodents” and “rodents with wings”. But as it so happens, bats are not actually related to mice, rats, or any other rodent, and are in fact what is called Chiroptera

The Bottom Line: Not a rodent 

Possums

Possum lurking in tree

Possums look kind of like rats, but actually, they are related to animals like kangaroos and koalas because they are marsupials!

The Bottom Line: Not a rodent

Guinea Pigs

Guinea Pig

Ok, even we can admit that these little creatures are pretty cute, and it’s not like they’re going to just show up in your home unprompted and cause all kinds of trouble like mice and rats can. All that said, guinea pigs are one of the few animals on this list so far that, despite their misleading name, are in fact rodents–and not pigs in any way. 

The Bottom Line: A rodent

Chipmunks

Chipmunk nibbling on food while perched on a rock

Chipmunks are pretty cute, but they can also be the cause of some minor irritation, burrowing into flower beds, and occasionally damaging plants. But are they rodents? Yes!

The Bottom Line: A rodent 

What To Do About Rodents

Despite some common misconceptions, many animals that can cause problems for you home and property are not in fact rodents. However, some of them are. Mice, rats, and to a lesser extent chipmunks are all rodents that can spell trouble if an infestation occurs. City Wide Exterminating can help. With our rodent guard program, we both capture rodents that are currently causing problems in and around your home and implement preventative measures to make sure rodents stay out!

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