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Are Rabbits Rodents?
Rodents or Not!
Rabbits are tiny animals that are abundant globally. Wild rabbits reside in burrows in various ecosystems – such as grasslands, woodlands, marshes, and deserts, whereas people often keep pet rabbits in their homes. Both domesticated rabbits and wild rabbits are clever in contrasting ways.
Rabbits are mostly known for their large ears and peculiar hopping action which they employ to move about. For example, when talking about rabbits, one of the most commonly asked topics is “are rabbits rodents,” and the answer is more subtle and fascinating than imagined.
In this article, we will discuss what makes a rodent a rodent and find out if rabbits belong to that group. It’ll also cover what is distinctive about rabbits and what makes them such terrific pets. So, join us as we investigate if rabbits indeed are rodents or not!
Are Rabbits Considered Rodents?
Rabbits are not rodents. Although their teeth are similar to those of rodents, they are not the same. Rabbits also have an entirely herbivorous diet and have extended hind legs compared to the tiny limbs of rodents.
They also have other unusual traits – such as long ears and a total absence of paw pads. In addition, rabbits are now in a category separate from that of rodents, but one hundred years ago, this was not the case.
Rabbits’ Teeth Continue to Develop
One of the primary reasons rabbits are often confused as rodents is because they share the primary distinguishing trait of rodents we discussed previously, namely, teeth continually expanding in size. Nevertheless, even though rabbits have this characteristic in common, there are still a few key distinctions that differentiate the two animals.
The fact that rabbits have an additional set of upper and lower incisors is by far the most noteworthy characteristic. These additional incisors are very minute and shaped like pegs. They hide below the primary incisors, making it challenging to locate them in the mouth.
In rodents, enamel covers the front teeth and dentin covers the back teeth. But, in rabbits, enamel covers both the front and back teeth. Therefore, rabbits cannot create the distinguishing chisel-shaped edge that sharpens on its own over time, but rodents can.
Why Are Rabbits Not Considered Rodents?
Although rabbits and rodents consume plant matter, we consider rabbits to be “obligate herbivores,” but, rodents are more likely to consume grains, seeds, nuts, tubers, or roots than plant matter. The digestive system of these animals is somewhat distinct from that of other animals since rabbits consume only plant matter.
They achieve this by grinding their food, just as hoofed animals do. It is a pouch that we discover at the start of the large intestine. It contains several helpful bacteria responsible for breaking down and digesting the difficult-to-eat cellulose found in plants. This pouch is at the beginning of the large intestine.
Now we get to the unpleasant parts of the discussion. When a rabbit consumes vegetation, it digests it thoroughly by consuming each plant twice. This is how it works: a rabbit consumes plant matter, the matter travels through its digestive tract, they poop out the matter as a soft black type of pellet called a caecotroph, they consume this pellet again, re-chew it, digest it, and then poop it out as the familiar hard round pellets that we all know and recognize.
This method, known as coprophagy, is one that you may or may not be familiar with. Dog owners may be acquainted with this challenging behavior shown by their family’s canine companions. Although it takes away a little bit from the “Easter Bunny” appeal, the fact that rabbits consume feces serves a useful function.
By reprocessing the meal a second time, they can optimize the number of nutrients they can absorb. Although some rodents consume their waste, such as guinea pigs and chinchillas, this is the exception rather than the rule among rodents since most rodents do not have feces.
Differences in Teeth
There are similarities and distinctions between rodent teeth and rabbit teeth. Incisors of rabbits and rodents both develop to an unknown size during their lives. Rodent incisors have hard enamel on the exterior just like the rabbit incisors and soft dentin behind; however, the front of the incisors on a rabbit is white, while the front of the incisors on a rodent is orange.
In addition, rabbits have two sets of upper incisors instead of only one. Behind these upper incisors is a series of much smaller teeth resembling pegs and only approximately a quarter of the size of the incisors themselves. We believe that this makes it simpler for rabbits to cut through plants; nevertheless, rabbits with malocclusion may have dental issues due to this trait.
Differences in Male Reproductive Bits
Male rabbits and rodents do not have one sack in their scrotum; instead, they have two separate sacs capable of being retracted into their body whenever the need arises. Most mammalian species possess a baculum, also known as a penis bone, which gives the male’s penis its characteristic hardness and enables them to mate for an extended amount of time.
However, rabbits and other lagomorphs do not have baculum bones in their bodies. Instead, people, horses, cetaceans (including whales and dolphins), and marsupials are the only other animals except rabbits that do not have baculum bones. This puts rabbits in excellent company.
The baculum is an evolutionary adaptation that enables mating to occur more quickly and for potentially extended periods. Compared to placing a bone structure into the genitalia to produce a quick erection, the erection process for those who do not have a baculum is much slower.
Because these animals spend less time in prominent or vulnerable mating postures due to rapid erection, the risk of the predators attacking them reduces. Therefore, biology is an essential component of understanding how and why nature works as it does, even though it may sometimes give the impression of diminishing the charm of these adorable fuzzy animals that live in the woods.
What Is a Rabbit Classified As?
Rabbits are classified under the Leporidae genus. One of the two families that make up the order Lagomorpha is the Leporidae family, where rabbits and hares find their home. Ochotonidae, popularly known as the pika family, is the other family included in this genus.
Mice, rats, guinea pigs, hamsters, prairie dogs, chipmunks, squirrels, muskrats, beavers, and chinchillas are only a few of the animals that belong to the Rodentia order, which is the biggest group of small mammals. The order Rodentia does not include rabbits, contrary to what many of us learned at our educational institutions.
It took decades for textbooks to catch up with the current taxonomy, which is why some people still refer to rabbits as rodents in many schools. Even farther back in time, rabbits were not differentiated from rodents in popular culture until much later.
Final Words – Are Rabbits Rodents?
It is a common misconception that rabbits are rodents; however, this is not the case. There are around 1,500 different mammals, with rodents making up the biggest group, rodentia (out of 4000 mammals). Although rabbits were formerly considered rodents, we now regard them as members of the order Lagomorpha.
Placental animals like rabbits and rats have rapid reproductive cycles due to their small size. Additionally, they give birth to a large number of live young. Rabbits, on the other hand, were no longer considered rodents after 1912, and we classify them as lagomorphs.
Several characteristics set rabbits apart from rodents. The most notable distinction is that rabbits possess additional incisor teeth. They also vary in a few attributes of their skeletons. There are around 87 different species of lagomorphs, with there being 28 different kinds of rabbits and cottontails, 30 different types of hares, and 29 different kinds of pikas