Rabbits are not rodents, they are lagomorphs, did you know? In this post we will explain the differences between them.
Are rabbits rodents? No, rabbits are lagomorphs
Rabbits have long been misclassified as rodents. The confusion is mainly due to the fact that both species gnaw, and they do so because both have the characteristic that their teeth grow an average of 10 centimeters per year. For this reason, both have to constantly gnaw to wear them down and in this way keep them with the indicated size to be able to feed properly.
Although today its condition as a lagomorph is increasingly known (due to the fact that there are traits and characteristics that are very different from rodents), it is still common to confuse both species.
Differences between rodent and lagomorph
The rabbit is the best example to explain the difference between rodents and lagomorphs, since for many years (practically until the end of the 20th century) it has been wrongly classified as a rodent.
While lagomorphs such as rabbits or hares have 6 incisors, four teeth above and two below, all rodent species have only 4 incisors, two above and two below.
The biggest confusion on this issue stems from the fact that both lagomorphs and rodents wear their incisors in a similar way, so that they are the right size. If they didn’t, they would overgrow, causing mouth sores and other health problems.
Rodent and lagomorphic teeth never stop growing and must undergo a natural wear process through dry and hard food.
The lagomorphs have all their limbs covered with hair, unlike rodents, which often do not have hair on hands, feet and ears. This condition is called bare skin.
- Burrows :
While lagomorphs always make their burrows underground, there are different ways that rodents make homes and nests and not all are underground.
Lagomorphs have large ears that serve to self-regulate their own body temperature. This is a distinctive characteristic between rabbits and rodents such as hamsters, guinea pigs, rats or gerbils, which have small, rounded ears.
All lagomorphs are herbivores, none consume any food or animal products other than milk during lactation. Their diet is based on hay and vegetables. In rodents, however, it depends on the species. While hamsters, rats, mice and gerbils are omnivores (they eat vegetables and meat) guinea pigs are strict herbivores, and only eat fresh vegetables and hay.
When we speak of rodents, we are referring to a group of mammals, those of the order Rodentia. Rodents encompass a multitude of species, approximately a total of 2,300 species that are found throughout the world. The order of rodents is considered to be the most varied, as it is the one with the largest number of different species.
Some of the most common and well-known rodents are mice, rats, guinea pigs, hamsters or squirrels, although there are also others such as porcupines or beavers within this order.
Rabbits are lagomorphic, that is, they belong to another biological order, shared with species such as hares or pikes.
Lagomorphs have a bone structure and anatomy that is closer to that of artiodactyls (such as goats or deer), since they also have legs ending in fingers and share some physical characteristics, something that does not happen in rodents.
Now you know the main differences between rodents and lagomorphs.