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Rodentia is the most common order of mammals on Earth, with estimates that out of all mammal species, 40% are rodents.  

They can be found all over North America, living in a variety of habitats and also being kept as pets.  

There are many species of rodents.  These can live on the ground, underground, in the trees or  sometimes in water.

Rodents are mammals of the Order Rodentia.  Rodent comes from Latin Rodere , “to gnaw.”

Rodents include common animals such as mice, rats, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs and squirrels.

Most rodents are characterized with log tails, short legs, and sturdy bodies.  Rodents are mostly herbivorous, feeding on plants, leaves, stems, flowers and roots.  Some are omnivorous.  

Black rat

Rodents will defend themselves and use their incisors to gnaw food.  Rodents have a pair of incisors on the lower and upper jaws.

Rodents are social animals, living in groups and communicating.  Rodents can practice polygyny or monogamy but can also be promiscuous.      

Some rodents are classed as pests, spreading diseases and eating food stored by humans.  

List of Rodentia in North America

Porcupine and Sewellel

Large Aquatic Rodents

Beaver swimming
American Beaver


Vancouver Island Marmot

Eastern and Tropical Tree Squirrels

  • Eastern Gray Squirrel
  • Eastern Fox Squirrel
  • Red-bellied Squirrel
  • Mexican Fox Squirrel

Western Tree Squirrels

  • Abert’s Squirrel
  • Arizona Gray Squirrel
  • Western Gray Squirrel
  • Eastern Gray Suirrel

Red and Flying Squirrels

Prairie Dogs

  • Gunnison’s Prairie Dog
  • White-tailed Prairie Dog
  • Utah Prairie Dog
  • Black-tailed Prairie Dog
Prairie Dog

Large, Spotted Ground Squirrels

  • Rock Squirrel
  • California Ground Squirrel
  • Columbian Ground Squirrel
  • Arctic Ground Squirrel

Bushy-tailed, Flecked Ground Squirrels

  • Franklin’s Ground Squirrel
  • Belding’s Ground Squirrel
  • Uinta Ground Squirrel
  • Wyoming Ground Squirrel
  • Richardson’s Ground Squirrel

Thin-tailed, Unmarked Ground Squirrels

  • Round-tailed Ground Squirrel
  • Mohave Ground Squirrel
  • Townsend’s Ground Squirrel
  • Merriam’s Ground Squirrel
  • Piute Ground Squirrel

Small, Spotted Ground Squirrels

  • Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel
  • Mexican Ground Squirrel
  • Spotted Ground Squirrel
  • Washington Ground Squirrel
  • Idaho Ground Squirrel

Stripy Ground Squirrels

  • Harris’s Antelope squirrel
  • Texas Antelope Squirrel
  • White-tailed Antelope Squirrel
  • Nelson’s Antelope Squirrel
  • Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel
  • Cascade Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel

Eastern and Rocky Mountain Chipmunks

  • Least Chipmunk
  • Eastern Chipmunk
  • Cliff Chipmunk
  • Red-tailed Chipmunk
  • Yellow-pine Chipmunk
  • Uinta Chipmunk

Southwest Chipmunks

  • Gray-collared Chipmunk
  • Gray-footed Chipmunk
  • Cliff Chipmunk
  • Least Chipmunk
  • Colorado Chipmunk
  • Hope Chipmunk
  • Unita Chipmunk

Southern California Chipmunks

  • Lodgepole Chipmunk
  • Merriam’s Chipmunk
  • California Chipmunk
  • Palmer’s Chipmunk
  • Panamint Chipmunk

Northwestern Coastal Chipmunks

Northwestern Island Chipmunks

  • Townsend’s Chipmunk
  • Shadow Chipmunk
  • Sonoma Chipmunk
  • Alpine Chipmunk
  • Long-eared Chipmunk
  • Siskiyou Chipmunk

Northern Thomomys

  • Camas Pocket Gopher
  • Northern Pocket Gopher
  • Wyoming Pocket Gopher
  • Idaho Pocket Gopher
  • Western Pocket Gopher
Northern Pocket Gopher

Cratogeomys and Southern Thomomys

  • Botta’s Pocket Gopher
  • Southern Pocket Gopher
  • Townsend’s Pocket Gopher
  • Mountain Pocket Gopher
  • Yellow-faced Pocket Gopher


  • Baird’s Pocket Gopher
  • Attwater’s Pocket Gopher
  • Konx Jones’s Pocket Gopher
  • Central Texas Pocket Gopher
  • Plains Pocket Gopher
  • Texas Pocket Gopher
  • Desert Pocket Gopher
  • Southeastern Pocket Gopher

Western Desert Perognathus

  • White-eared Pocket Mouse
  • San Joaquin Pocket Mouse
  • Arizona Pocket Mouse
  • Little Pocket Mouse

Great Plains Perognathus

  • Olive-backed Pocket Mouse
  • Plains Pocket Mouse
  • Merriam’s Pocket Mouse
  • Silky Pocket Mouse
  • Great Basin Pocket Mouse
Great Basin Pocket Mouse
October 2015. Great Basin Pocket Mouse (Perognathus parvus), Nr Mono Lake, California USA

Liomys and Spiny Chaetodipus

  • California Pocket Mouse
  • San Diego Pocket Mouse
  • Nelson’s Pocket Mouse
  • Spiny Pocket Mouse
  • Rock Pocket Mouse
  • Mexican Spiny Pocket Mouse

Smooth Chaetodipus

  • Bailey’s Pocket Mouse
  • Baja California Pocket Mouse
  • Long-tailed Pocket Mouse
  • Hispid Pocket Mouse
  • Chihuahuan Pocket Mouse
  • Desert Pocket Mouse

Kangaroo Mice and Small Four-toed Kangaroo Rats

  • Dark Kangaroo Mouse
  • Pale Kangaroo Mouse
  • Merriam’s Kangaroo Rat
  • San Joaquin Valley Kangaroo Rat

Large Four-toed Kangaroo Rats

  • Banner-tailed Kangaroo Rat
  • Desert Kangaroo Rat
  • Texas Kangaroo Rat
  • California Kangaroo Rat

Mid-California Five-toed Kangaroo Rats

  • Heermann’s Kangaroo Rat
  • Giant Kangaroo Rat
  • Narrow-faced Kangaroo Rat

Southern California Five-Toed Kangaroo Rats

Other Five-toed Kangaroo Rats

  • Chisel-toothed Kangaroo Rat
  • Panamint Kangaroo Rat
  • Ord’s Kangaroo Rat
  • Gulf Coast Kangaroo Rat

Jumping Mice

  • Woodland Jumping Mouse
  • Meadow Jumping Mouse
  • Western Jumping Mouse
  • Pacific Jumping Mouse

Eastern and Central Woodrats

  • Eastern Woodrat
  • Allegheny Woodrat
  • Mexican Woodrat
  • Southern Plains Woodrat

Furry-tailed Woodrats

  • White-throated Woodrat
  • White-toothed Woodrat
  • Stephens’s Woodrat
  • Bushy-tailed Woodrat
Bushy-tailed Woodrat
Bushy-tailed Woodrat

Woodrats and Rattus

  • Dusky-footed Woodrat
  • Big-eared Woodrat
  • Arizona Woodrat
  • Desert Woodrat
  • Bryant’s Woodrat
  • Roof Rat
  • Brown Rat

Grasshopper Mice and Oryzomys

  • Northern Grasshopper Mouse
  • Southern Grasshopper Mouse
  • Chihuahan Grasshopper Mouse
  • Coues’s Oryzomys
  • Marsh Oryzomys

Central and Eastern Tiny Mice

  • Northern Pygmy Mouse
  • Fulvous harvest Mouse
  • Eastern Harvest Mouse
  • Plains Harvest Mouse

House and Western Tiny Mice

  • Western Harvest Mouse
  • Salt-marsh Harvest ouse
  • House Mouse
House Mouse

Northern Deermice

  • White-footed Deermouse
  • North American Deermous
  • Northwestern Deermouse

Southeastern Peromyscus and Relatives

  • Cotton Deermouse
  • Oldfield Deermouse
  • Florida Deermouse
  • Golden Mouse

Far West Peromyscus

  • California Deermouse
  • Canyon Deermouse
  • Cactus Deermouse
  • Northern Baja Deermouse
  • Merriam’s Deermouse
  • Black-eared Deermouse

Peromyscus Truei and Boylii Groups

  • Pinon Deermouse
  • Northern Rock Deermouse
  • Saxicoline Deermouse
  • Texas Deermouse
  • Brush Deermouse
  • White-ankled Deermouse


  • Hispid Cotton Rat
  • Yellow-nosed Cotton Rat
  • Arizona Cotton Rat
  • Tawny-bellied Cotton Rat

Arborimus Voles

  • Red Tree Vole
  • Sonoma Tree Vole
  • White-footed Vole

Red-backed Voles

  • Western Red-backed Vole
  • Southern Red-backed Vole
  • Northern Red-backed Vole

Coastal Microtus

  • Gray-tailed Vole
  • California Vole
  • Creeping Vole
  • Townsend’s Vole

Other Western Voles

  • Montane Vole
  • Long-tailed Vole
  • North American Water Vole
  • Sagebrush Vole
East Water Vole
Water Vole

Northern Voles

  • Taiga Vole
  • Singing Vole
  • Eastern Heather Vole
  • Western Heather Vole
  • Root Vole

Typical Voles

  • Mexican Vole
  • Prairie Vole
  • Beach Vole
  • Meadow Vole

Eastern Voles and Bog Lemmings

  • Woodland Vole
  • Rock Vole
  • Southern Bog Lemming
  • Northern Bog Lemming

Northern Lemmings

  • Nearctic Brown Lemming
  • Ungava Collared Lemming
  • Richardson’s Collared Lemming
  • Nearctic Collared Lemming
  • Nelson’s Collared Lemming
  • Ogilvie Mountains Collared Lemming
  • Unalaska Collared Lemming


There are several suborders, infraorders, superfamilies and families of rodents.  Classification of rodents is difficult as traits that are similar to different families may not be due to common ancestry, but parallel evolution.  

There are disagreements on how many suborders there are, with some scientists saying three, and some saying two.

Brandt, a German naturalist in 1855 proposed dividing Rodentia into three suborders.  These are Sciuromorpha, Hysticomorrpha and Myomorpha.  These suborders were bad on the development of specific muscles in the jaw.


However, disagreements to this system have been raised, with suborders of two being proposed by Tullborg in 1899, and the latest by Carleton and Musser in 2005 adopting a suborder system of five in their book, Mammal Species of the World.  These five are Anomaluromorpha , Castorimorpha, Hystricomorpha, Myomorpha and Sciuromorpha.  In these five suborders, there are 33 families, 481 genera and 2277 species.  Not all of these species or families live in North America.

Suborder Anomaluromorpha

Family Anomaluridae: Scaly-tailed squirrels (Not found in North America)

Family Pedetidae: Springhares (Not found in North America)

Suborder Castorimorpha

Superfamily Castoroidea

Family Castoridae: Beavers

Superfamily Geomyoidea

Family Geomyidae: Pocket gophers (true gophers)

Family Heteromyidae: Kangaroo rats, kangaroo mice

Suborder Hystricomorpha

Infraorder Ctenodactylomorphi

Family Ctenodactylidae: Gundis (Not found in North America)

Infraorder Hystricognathi

Family Bathyergidae: African mole rats (Not found in North America)

Family Hystricidae: Old World porcupines (Not found in North America)

Family Petromuridae: Dassie rat (Not found in North America)

Family Thryonomyidae: Cane rats (Not found in North America)

Parvorder Caviomorpha

Family Heptaxodontidae: Giant hutias (Extinct)

Family Abrocomidae: Chinchilla rats (Not found in North America)

Family Capromyidae: Hutias

Family Caviidae: Cavies, including Guinea pigs and the capybara (Not found in North America)

Family Chinchillidae: Chinchillas, viscachas (Not found in North America)

Family Dasyproctidae: Agoutis (Not found in North America)

Family Cuniculidae: Pacas (Not found in North America)

Family Dinomyidae: Pacaranas (Not found in North America)

Family Echimyidae: Spiny rats (Not found in North America)

Family Erethizontidae: New World porcupines

Family Myocastoridae: Coypu (nutria)

Family Octodontidae: Octodonts (Not found in North America)

Family Erethizontidae: New World porcupines

Infraorder Incertae sedis

Family Diatomyidae: Laotian rock rat (Not found in North America)

Suborder Myomorpha

Superfamily Dipodoidea

Family Dipodidae: Jerboas and jumping mice

Superfamily Muroidea

Family Calomyscidae: Mouse-like hamsters (Not found in North America)

Family Cricetidae: Hamsters, New World rats and mice, muskrats, voles, lemmings

Family Muridae: True mice and rats, gerbils, spiny mice, crested rat

Family Nesomyidae: Climbing mice, rock mice, white-tailed rat, Malagasy rats and mice (Not found in North America)

Family Platacanthomyidae: Spiny dormice (Not found in North America)

Family Spalacidae: Mole rats, bamboo rats, zokors (Not found in North America)

Suborder Sciuromorpha

Family Aplodontiidae: Mountain beaver

Family Gliridae (also Myoxidae, Muscardinidae): dormice (Not found in North America)

Family Sciuridae: Squirrels, including chipmunks, prairie dogs, marmots