Types of Rodents – The Most Common

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“Types Of Rodents”

Types of Rodents

When discussing types of rodents, we must first determine what rodents are and what critters fall into that class or definition.

Everything that is small, hairy and runs around causing destruction or havoc is not a rodent. As is the case with many species, rodent is used very loosely, especially in the States.We hope to clarify just what a rodent is and some of the more common ones we have here in the States.

The definition of rodent from wiki: 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; 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.

However fascinating their biology is, one fact remains; rodents are the number one enemy of human beings.

While they may look cute from afar, they have the ability to cause massive damage to property and structures as well as houses and horse barns and carry diseases especially because they reproduce quickly.

To know which parts of your properties you need to protect, it is always important to know which types of rodents you are dealing with.

  1. Rats

Of all rodent types, these are by far the toughest and most robust. They mostly live in burrows and can sustain under harsh conditions.

They destroy practically everything from grains of food to clothes. This makes them one of the biggest headaches for human beings.

They are also carriers of dangerous incurable diseases such as rabies, jaundice, salmonellosis and rat-bite fever

among others. 

Although they weigh at most 1 pound or just a little more, their weight and size are not relative to the damage they cause. There are several rat categories. Norway rats, for instance, are found everywhere in the United States. 

These build their habitat burrows in piles of garbage, lumber piles, or under slabs of concrete.

When the sources of food outside are scarce during fall, they are more prone to enter the homes and will stay in dark areas of the room. There are also roof rats. As their names suggest, they mostly stay on the roofs.

Rats gnaw away at anything and everything. They can easily damage your lead and plastic pipes to get water and food.

A great way to do away with rats is to ensure that you tightly cover garbage cans and remove fallen fruit from your yard and around your home.

It is always good to check for droppings and damaged food or clothes, which will indicate there are rats in the home.

  1. Mice

You might find yourself confusing mice with rats. Because mice are ten times smaller than rats, you may think a mouse is a baby rat.

They are by far the most active and the most destructive types of rodents. They are seemingly cleverer and more evasive than rats and are more difficult to trap.

There are also two types of mice.

A house mouse usually lives in secluded structures. They are excellent climbers and can jump as high as a foot to escape danger.

Deer mice, on the other hand, are mostly found in woody places in the rural areas. While they mostly stay outside, they can get into your home during winter in search for warmer habitats

Mice are dangerous because they are associated with the spread of the Hantavirus that spreads through the inhalation of infected feces and urine.

When in contact with food and water, they can spread salmonella, plague, and tapeworm. They are also very destructive because they gnaw away at everything.

There have been numerous cases where they have started a fire by gnawing on electrical wires both inside and outside a home.

  1. Squirrels

These are perhaps the shyest types of rodents. They are cute and tend to run away at the tiniest sound.

They live on trees and enjoy eating nuts. Unlike mice and rats, squirrels are too afraid to live in human residences’. If you are a farmer, however, these are your worst enemy.

They dig holes in the ground to find food and tend to eat seeds planted by farmers. They are difficult to catch because they hear movement from afar.

  1. Guinea pigs

Like squirrels, these too are mild rodent types. They do not know how to defend themselves against larger animals and so they tend to run and hide.

In some countries, guinea pigs are a delicacy.

Scientists use them for experiments because they can survive in most environmental conditions and can substitute rats.

Guinea pigs eat a lot of greens and may, therefore, cause a lot of damage to farms when plants begin to grow especially if they are concentrated in one area.

  1. Hamsters

Hamsters look like mice and rats except for the fact that they have very long tails. Unlike rats and mice, humans are fond of hamsters and sometimes rear them as pets.

Farmers, however, may not be as fond of these little guys because they tend to eat and destroy plants especially fruits such as papaya and apples. 

Because they have the ability to climb trees and make burrows, they can live anywhere they find a great food supply. They also have the ability to multiply quickly and so can cause massive damage in numbers.

  1. Prairie Dogs

Although they do fantastic in the wild, these can make for amazing pets as well.

They are harmless and look and sound like dogs although a bit smaller in size than actual dogs. They live underground and tend to dig large holes to accommodate themselves.

Like squirrels, they also eat seeds planted by farmers. 

They are also dangerous because when provoked, they can get very defensive. It is also said that the worst bite in history was from these tiny rodents.

It takes a lot of effort and skill to capture wild prairie dogs and may require you to hire a professional.

  1. Marmots

Like most rodents in this list, these live in burrows in the soil. They are referred to many times as Large Squirrels!

They are large and somewhat resemble squirrels. In large numbers, they can be dangerous and harmful to plants.

In the U.S they are found mostly in the mountainous area of the Sierra Nevada Area.

These last two mentions do not fall under “types of rodents” but we are giving them an honorable mention because of their popularity and the fact they can be found pretty much in every state.

As we look into the types of rodents, we are going to consider two species that really do not fall under that class but still do as much damage and cause as much aggravation as most of the others listed above! 

You might say these get an Honorable mention in this group. 🙂

  1. Raccoon

The Raccoon is not considered a rodent as such but a mammal. It is a meat eater but will also help itself to many other types of foods when available

Although not a rodent, it can and will be a nuisance at times when around homes, barns and outbuilding.

They will get in your garbage, garden, attic, crawl space, etc.

These mammals can carry disease just like nay other wild animal and have been known to carry rabies.

The Raccoon is mostly a nocturnal animal but can be seen in the daytime. They like to fish for small minnows and crawfish in streams. This also gives them the opportunity to clean as they eat.

They also eat a lot of worms and insects in the spring of the year. Later in the summer, they prefer fruits and nuts.

  1. Opossum (AKA Possum)

Although the Opossum is not a real rodent in class, they are considered one by many people! The Opossum is in fact, a “marsupial”.

The definition of a marsupial is found HERE.

Opossums are animals that migrated from South America and have become a very common creature in the States.

They have a very flexible diet and can and will eat most anything. Because of this and their reproductive habits, they have become a very prominent animal. They can colonize and live in most any habitat!

I have found them to be brave enough to enter our deck and eat out of our cat’s food bowls at night. Several times we have come home to see one scurrying away when he spotted our head lights from or vehicle.

The ones we have had experiences with can consume a lot of food at one time and they have no fear of cats at all.

Opossums will den in attics and under crawl spaces when given the opportunity so it is important that you keep these areas shut off and secure.

They can transmit diseases but it is not a common thing to hear of anyone being affected by and opossum as they do not normally interact with humans.

Even though they are not considered a type of rodent, we felt it necessary to mention them as they are so wide-spread and can, in fact, affect your garbage, garden, etc.


When thinking about the name rodents, it is easy to think that there are only two or three animals in the category. However, the list of animals that can be classified as rodents is endless.

These animals all have certain things in common, for instance, they have dangerous bites and are capable of destroying property in just a matter of minutes.

Take the necessary precautions to keep away these pests from your home and farm lands as well.

If you need to understand what kind of rodent is doing damage or if you need them removed and don’t or can’t do it yourself, check out our Professional Pest Control offers below.  This will put you in contact with a trusted professional in your local area. No purchases or deposits required, just good old fashion estimates at your request.

If you need help removing any kind of rodent or pest from your home or property, check out our “FREE” Pest/Rodent Control Services below.

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