You cannot expect the education system to teach you everything. When it comes to the animal kingdom, the classes are usually reserved for those colourful frogs of the rainforests; what is and what is not a rodent usually does not make it into the lesson plan.
As such, there is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding out there. For example, let’s think about a question that many people ponder from time to time: Are rabbits rodents?
We will not beat around the bush for too long: we can reveal that rabbits are, in fact, NOT RODENTS. It is not hard to see why people think they are, though -- there are plenty of rodents around. Almost a third of the total number of mammal species are rodents.
Perhaps because there are so many rodents out there, people are happy to throw in any animal that vaguely resembles a rodent into the list, and hope that they are right. Once you break down the list of rodents, you will find that the majority look like mice or rats.
Rabbits do not resemble these creatures, of course, but they do bear some similarity with other rodents, such as beavers. And a spring hare, another rodent, could well be a cousin of the rabbit. They look virtually alike (though rabbits are cuter) except the spring hare has a long tail, like a squirrel.
So, if rabbits are not rodents, then what are they?
They are part of the Leporidae family; they belong in the Lagomorpha branch. If you are not fully satisfied with that answer and want to know what sets them apart from rodents, then that is fair -- they do share a lot of similarities. But there are some key differences that put them into a different category.
They have more incisor teeth than rodents, for example -- rodents have two, whereas rabbits have four. They are also herbivores. Most rodents will eat anything that you put in front of it, including meat, but a rabbit would not -- they will opt for a plant if it is on the menu.
There is an interesting footnote about “rabbits as rodents” that is worth mentioning, however. And that is that in the past, they were considered to be rodents. It was only in the early part of the 20th century that scientists decided that the lagomorph order did not belong to the order Rodentia after all.
So if you’re ever time-travelling back to any period before the beginning of the 20th century, be sure to adjust your answer to “are rabbits rodents” to “yes, ” unless you feel like explaining to all the esteemed minds why they’re wrong. If you have arrived after the publication of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, then you can explain that rabbits come from a different hereditary line to other rodents.
So now that we have figured that out are you more likely to get a rabbit as a pet? People have a bad perception of rodents, probably for understandable reasons, even if they are a little misunderstood. If you have decided to bring a rabbit into your family home, then be sure to check out the rabbit-related items we have on our website.