Are rabbits rodents?

Are rabbits rodents? This is the age-old question that usually lingers in most people’s minds. Bunnies are not rodents, contrary to popular belief. One of the main differences between the two is their dental anatomy. Bunnies have four incisors while rodents have two. Rabbits are strictly herbivorous while most rodents’ diet also comprises meat.

Although bunnies were initially classified as rodents, they are currently categorized in the Lagomorpha order. However, Rodentia is the largest mammal group with 1500 out of 4000 mammals. This article looks at facts about rabbits and rodents, their similarities and distinctions.

Examples of Lagomorphs and rodents

Lagomorphs include rabbits, hares, and pikas, while rodent species are rats, mice, beavers, squirrels, guinea pigs, porcupines, hamsters, capybara, prairie dogs, and pygmy jerboa

 

Difference between rabbits and rodents

Rabbits were considered rodents up until the 20th century when they were further studied by lead paleontologists and in 1912 they were later classified as Lagomorphs. Below are some of the main differences between rabbits and rodents.

Teeth

One of the main distinctions when it comes to Lagomorpha and rodents is their dental anatomy. Rabbits have two sets of white incisors on their upper jaw, while rodents have a single set of orange incisors on their upper jaw. In general, Lagomorphs usually have more teeth compared to rodents.

Both Lagomorpha and rodents have open rooted teeth which continuously grow and the only way to wear down their teeth is through chewing. In other words, gnawing is therefore necessary. As a result, these two animals should chew hard food such as hay as often as possible.

Digestion

Although lagomorphs and rodents eat plant matter, unlike rabbits are strictly herbivores, the latter are omnivores. Rodent’s diet also consists of seeds, roots, insects, grains, tubers, and nuts.

The digestive system between lagomorphs and rodents is therefore quite different. Bunny’s digestive system is similar to that of cows and horses (hooved animals). What this means is that they have cecum in the gut which typically helps break down fermented cellulose.

On the other hand, the main purpose of the cecum in some rodents is the absorption of fluids and salts left out during digestion. Cecum combines with mucus to ease digestion.

Reproduction

Rodents have a penis bone known as Baculum, unlike rabbits who don’t. The main purpose of this particular bone is to stiffen a rodent’s genitalia and prolong its mating duration. The baculum also helps rodents mate faster in the wild by avoiding potential danger from predators while they’re in this peculiar situation.

Similarities between rabbits and rodents

 

  • One of the similarities between rabbits and rodents is that both of them have short breeding cycles. The gestation period for rodents is twenty days while a rabbit is roughly thirty days.
  • When it comes to their litter, both lagomorphs and rodents give birth to a maximum of fourteen young ones, however, the minimum number usually varies.
  • They both have ever-growing large chisel-shaped incisors.
  • Lagomorphs and rodents are both placental mammals, meaning that their placenta is present during gestation.
  • Another similarity is that both these animals have cheek teeth that are designed to eat plant matter.
  • They also have a large cecum that enables both rodents and lagomorphs to easily digest plant matter.
  • Both of these animals feed their young ones with highly nutritious milk.
  • Lastly, Lagomorphs and rodents both love to gnaw and also eat their own fecal matter, a process known as Coprophagia.

 

Conclusion

Are rabbits rodents? We hope this article was informative enough to answer your question by drawing a distinction between the two.

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