Rodents are survivors, and their instincts make them hard to control. While they can be found throughout the world, only a few rodents are considered pests to humans. Rodents have the largest number of species in the order of mammals. Rodents are classified as mammals with constantly growing front teeth. The name rodent comes from the Latin word “rodere” which means, “to gnaw”.
In order to survive, rodents must continually chew or gnaw on wood for their teeth to be shaped and flattened. Rodents will feed mainly on seeds and plants and they use their front teeth to chew up this food, as well as for defense. Rodents have been around for over 65 million years. They are able to reproduce very quickly and can be the carriers of a number of diseases and parasites such as lice and ticks. They are also food for a number of predators.
The types of rodents can be broken down into many classifications. The more common rodents are contained in three main suborders: Myomorpha, Sciuromorpha and Hystricomorpha. Structural shapes of the rodent's skeletal makeup classify the suborders.
The group of rodents in the suborder Myomorpha contain mice, rats, hamsters, and voles. These rodents are grouped in this order based on the structure of their molar teeth. There are over 1100 species in this group.
Sciuromorpha rodents are mainly squirrels. The defining characteristic of this group is the shape of the infraorbital canal, which is the area of the skull that holds the eye. There are over 300 species in this group and other members include chipmunks, flying squirrels and marmots.
The third group, Hystricomorpha, can also be defined by their infraorbital canals, which are much larger than other species'. This suborder contains porcupines, chinchilla, capybaras and spiny rats.