Is a hamster a rodent? A lot of hamster owners wonder whether their pets are rodents. They often ask the question “is a hamster a rodent?” with some nervousness… Probably because “rodents” don’t exactly have the best reputation!
The most well-known types of rodents are mice and rats, which – although kept as pets by lots of people! – are often thought of as disease-carrying vermin.
Is a hamster a rodent?
So, are hamsters rodents? And if they are, is that a bad thing?
Is a hamster a rodent?
Yes! Hamsters are rodents.
Rodents are simply a group of mammals that have no canine teeth and strong incisor teeth that constantly grow throughout their lives (the fact that hamsters have teeth that never stop growing is one of our favorite hamster facts!).
In humans, incisor teeth are the four front teeth in both the top and bottom rows. This means humans have a total of eight incisor teeth.
Hamsters have four incisor teeth. They’re located at the front of their mouths, with two incisors in the top row of teeth and two incisors in the bottom row.
What other animals are rodents?
Rodents are actually the most common type of mammal. Approximately 40 percent of all mammal species are rodents.
Other types of rodents include rats, mice, squirrels, guinea pigs, porcupines and beavers.
Is it bad to be a rodent?
No! Just because some wild rodents – particularly rats – are associated with disease, that doesn’t mean that rodents are in any way “dirty” or that you should be put off keeping them. Hamsters make great pets!
As we’ve explained above, being a rodent simply means that your hamster shares continually growing incisor teeth with other animals, so we group them together with those animals in a group we call “rodents”.
Finally, because your hamster’s incisor teeth constantly grow, they need to chew a lot! Chewing helps to grind the hamster’s teeth down and stops them from getting too long. However, you should never let your hamster chew the bars of their cage.
Rodents (from Latin Rodere, “to gnaw”) are mammals of the order Rodentia, which are characterized by a single pair of continuously growing incisors in each of the upper and lower jaws. About 40% of all mammal species are rodents (2,277 species); they are found in vast numbers on all continents except Antarctica. They are the most diversified mammalian order and live in a variety of terrestrial habitats, including human-made environments.
Species can be arboreal, fossorial (burrowing), or semiaquatic. Well-known rodents include mice, rats, squirrels, prairie dogs, chipmunks, porcupines, beavers, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils and capybaras.
Other animals such as rabbits, hares, and pikas, whose incisors also grow continually, were once included with them, but are now considered to be in a separate order, the Lagomorpha. Nonetheless, Rodentia and Lagomorpha are sister groups, sharing a most recent common ancestor and forming the clade of Glires.
Most rodents are small animals with robust bodies, short limbs, and long tails. They use their sharp incisors to gnaw food, excavate burrows, and defend themselves. Most eat seeds or other plant material, but some have more varied diets.
They tend to be social animals and many species live in societies with complex ways of communicating with each other. Mating among rodents can vary from monogamy, to polygyny, to promiscuity. Many have litters of underdeveloped, altricial young, while others are precocial (relatively well developed) at birth.
The rodent fossil record dates back to the Paleocene on the supercontinent of Laurasia. Rodents greatly diversified in the Eocene, as they spread across continents, sometimes even crossing oceans. Rodents reached both South America and Madagascar from Africa and were the only terrestrial placental mammals to reach and colonize Australia.
Rodents have been used as food, for clothing, as pets, and as laboratory animals in research. Some species, in particular, the brown rat, the black rat, and the house mouse, are serious pests, eating and spoiling food stored by humans, and spreading diseases. Accidentally introduced species of rodents are often considered to be invasive and have caused the extinction of numerous species, such as island birds, previously isolated from land-based predators.