Rabbits are not rodents.
Although their teeth are similar to those of rodents, they are not the same. Rabbits also have a strictly herbivorous diet.
They have long back legs compared to the short limbs of rodents. They also have other distinct features – such as long ears and a complete lack of paw pads.
Rabbits are also classified differently from rodents, although this wasn’t the case one hundred years ago.
Differences Between Rabbits and Rodents
|Lagomorphs||Rodentia||Cheek teeth look similar as both eat plant matter|
|Belong to the same group as hares and pikas||Same group as mice, rats, squirrels, guinea pigs, prairie dogs, porcupines, and hamsters.||Have large, chisel-shaped, ever-growing incisors|
|Incisors lined with a single enamel||Incisors lined with enamel and dentine||Have an enlarged cecum to digest plant matter|
|Unpigmented incisors||Orange-yellow to orange incisors||Eat their own feces|
|Two pairs of upper incisors||One pair of upper incisors||Both eat plant matter|
|Strictly herbivorous||May eat animal matter||Placental mammals (have placenta during gestation)|
|Have high-crowned cheek teeth||Only some rodents have this feature||Have short breeding cycles|
|Maxillary fenestrations present||Maxillary fenestrations absent||Give birth to multiple live young|
|Baculum (penis bone) absent||Baculum present||Newborns feed on mother’s milk for nutrition|
|Short tails||Many have long tails||Both love to gnaw|
What type of animal is a rabbit?
Since we know that rabbits are not rodents, what type of animal are they? Rabbits are lagomorphs, part of a different biological order which is not as diverse as Rodentia.
In fact, within the Lagomorpha order, there are only three family groups: rabbits, hares, and pikas.
Rabbits and hares make up the Leporidae family, whereas pikas are the sole extant animal in the Ochotonidae family.
What are rodents?
When we discuss rodents, we are talking about a mammalian group of the biological order Rodentia.
This order includes a multitude of different species both extant and extinct. Currently, there are around 2,300 rodent species spread out across the world.
Rodents are considered to be the most varied mammal groups with around 6,400 extant species currently recognized.
Some of the most commonly recognized rodents include:
- Guinea pigs