Rodents are mammals, and they get characterized by having a single pair of teeth that grow throughout their lifetime. Currently, different types of rodents make up 40% of all mammal species, and you can find them in large numbers in six continents. Due to the survival instincts they have, they can do very well in human-made and wild environments. They’re also considered to be one of the most diversified mammalian species alive.
They also get characterized by their ability to dig and burrow into the ground to search for food sources or make a home for themselves. Unfortunately, this means that these often cute mammals can quickly wreak havoc on your garden and turn into pests. Most rodents survive by eating fruits, nuts, seeds, and other plant materials, but others eat dairy products or meat too. We’re going to break down the top pesky types of rodents that you may see running around your home or garden below.
The first mammal on the list is a type of rodent that is very closely related to the common guinea pig. They also look very similar, but they have longer legs and a bigger size. They have different colored fur too, including brown, red-hued, black, grey, orange, and more. They can reach 24-inches long at full maturity, and they have white fur on their bellies and black fur on their backs.
This is a rodent subfamily that encompasses lemmings and muskrats. They’re one of the biggest groups of rodents in the northern hemisphere, and you can find them in fossil occlusions of bones that owls or birds of prey caught. The fossils are popular for dating archeological sites in Europe and North America. The molars on these types of rodents stand out as they have cusps on them in the shape of alternating triangles.
Beavers are usually found in the wild around ponds, streams, and lakes or rivers. This type of rodent has a very distinctive appearance, including a flat, hard tail, protruding noses, and hunched backs. They typically have brown fur, and they build dams on the rivers. They’re the second largest rodent classification on earth, but their populations have dropped off sharply over the years due to people hunting them for their fur and glands. The fur gets used for clothing and the glands get used for perfumes and medicine.
This type of rodent is a mole rat that burrows, and you can find it only in the wild in Africa’s Sub Saharan region. The fossil forms are only found on the African continent. They come with short limbs and cylindrical bodies, and they can get up to a foot long and weigh in at just under four pounds. They have reduced ear and eye sizes compared to the fossorial mammals, and you’ll see loose skins, short tails, and soft, velvety fur.
5. Cane Rat
Cane rats live in Africa just south of the Sahara desert. They’re classified as a pest species, and they’re one one of the most dangerous types of rodents in the world when it comes to crop destruction. They can get up to two feet long at full maturity, and they can weigh 22 pounds. They love to be in marshy areas along river banks, and they have brown, bristly fur that has grey and yellow spots speckled throughout. They are fully mature at six months old, and they can have litters once a year with two to four babies.
Cavies are another type of rodent that you find only in South America. They have the largest living rodent in this family, the Capybara. You can find them across the moist savanna to the scrub deserts and thorn forests. This rodent comes with a large head and heavy body, and they almost never have tails. They range in size from eight inches up to just over four feet.
The chinchilla is the type of rodent that has the densest coat of fur of any mammal that currently lives on land. The only thing that beats it is the sea otter, and this is a more rare pest due to hunting in the 19th century. You can find them in the wild in southwestern South America, and they’re also a favored pet. They live in crevices and burrows within rocks, and they can jump an impressive six feet high. They’re usually prey for birds, including falcons and hawks, but felines, skunks, dogs, and snakes can be predatory too.
With their chubby cheeks, black-and-tan racing stripes, and twitching tails, this type of rodent can seem harmless. They’re common in every state in the United States, and they have to gnaw aggressively to keep their incisors from overgrowing. If they get into your attic or basement spaces, they can easily chew through pipes, electrical wiring, flooring, and insulation.
You can avoid this problem by sealing crevices and holes, eliminating brush, and installing a chimney cap. It’s also a good idea to put bird feeders, trash cans, and vegetable gardens away from the home’s foundation. If you come across droppings or chew marks, you should call a professional company to help you get rid of them since they can carry diseases.
Chipmunks are cute, but they can also cause a decent deal of damage to your home’s foundation or your garden. This is especially true if you have several of them running around. Chippy’s Summer Vacation by Treasured Distractions / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
This type of rodent is well-known for excessive burrowing and feeding, and it falls into the pest category due to the sheer destruction it can wreak. It has a darker coloring on the fur around the body, protruding orange teeth, and a white patch of fur around the mouth. This makes it easy to identify.
10. Deer Mouse
The deer mouse is a type of rodent that is one of the so-called new world mice because they were originally found on American soil when it was a newly discovered continent. They have bigger eyes than normal, and they have two-tone coloring on their coats. When you compare them to house mice, they can jump huge distances. They can also run faster. However, they’re very well-known carriers of disease, and they have carried Lyme disease, hantavirus, and ehrlichiosis.
The Octodon Degu is a type of rodent you’ll find in Chile. It’s smaller than a fancy rat but larger than a golden hamster, and it usually only gets 11 inches long at full maturity. It has a yellow-brown tinged coat with creamy yellow coloring on the fur below the belly. You’ll see a thin tail with a black, tufted tip. The ears have little fur, and it has bristled hind feet. The teeth are shaped like the number eight, and this is where it gets the name.
You’ll find these types of rodents throughout the northern hemisphere, and it encompasses 50 species, including birch mice, jumping mice, and jerboas. You can find them in forests, deserts, and grasslands, so it’s not so uncommon to find them poking around your forest garden. They’re well adapted for jumping because they have longer hind legs. Also, they have very long tails and can be bipedal.
The dormouse is well-known for having long hibernation periods. When you compare the tail to the body, you can see that it’s particularly long. It is very lightweight, and this allows it to cling very tightly to plants. They’re agile, furry, and lightweight, and this type of rodent is omnivorous. This means that it can eat fruits, berries, insects, and flowers easily. They don’t have any premolars, but their teeth are very similar to what a squirrel has. This mouse type gained popularity due to the book by Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland.
Gerbils are a type of rodent that is very similar to hamsters, and they’re popular house pets. They’re not considered to be aggressive, and they rarely bite unless you provoke them. They’re easy to handle, small, and very sociable. They also have a special excretory system that helps them minimize waste and conserve water. This means that they’re clean pets, and they’re very cute. They have small ears, a thick coat, and small toes. The tail makes up half of their body length.
Gophers are extremely common in Central and North America. They live in holes, and they have a reputation for excessive tunneling that can wreak havoc on your plants, flowering shrubs, trees, and general landscape. They can get up to eight inches long and they usually weigh around half of a pound. They can live between three and five years, and they have a brown coat that matches the soil color that they live in. You’ll see small hairy tails and larger cheek pouches if you spot them poking up in your yard.
16. Ground Squirrel
Ground squirrels are a type of rodent that pose a very real threat to your plants and your yard, and many people ignore them. They’re right up there with gophers with destructive tendencies, and they can wreak havoc while eating a large amount of plant material, both below and above ground. They create complex, large burrow systems that can undermine patios, structures, and sidewalks. They can also create dangerous sinkholes that you can injure yourself if you fall in.
They’re also huge nut and fruit eaters, and they’ll eat virtually any other form of vegetation. Additionally, they are also huge carriers of ticks and fleas that can easily spread to your pets. There are a few benefits to having this type of rodent around, but it’s generally better to remove them when you see them.
Groundhogs are also called woodchucks, and you can find them in the wild in most states. They’re commonly mistaken for gophers, but they’re heavier and larger than the other burrowing rodent. The chunky bodies have a grizzled brown fur, and they can top out at two feet long. The front paws have curved, long claws for digging, and they pose a huge threat to your landscaping and lawn. Also, they can occasionally get into your crawl space and gnaw electrical lines.
This is a stocky, small type of rodent that lives in Africa across the deserts. There are numerous subspecies that are now extinct, and they get hunted for food. They’re plump, small, stout, and they have bigger ears. They can get up to seven inches long, and they’re covered in fur. They have four toes on each foot, and the hind feet have bristles that are comb-like. This is why they’re also referred to as comb rats. They’re a herbivore that can eat any type of plant, and they get all of the moisture they need from their food.
Hamsters are common house pets, especially throughout the western hemisphere. They are one of the cutest types of rodents, and they get characterized as being fat and small. You can get them in a range of colors, and they have short tails with a thick fur on their feet. They’re also more fragile, and changing temperatures can cause them health issues, both cold and hot. They’re colorblind and have bad eyesight. So, they use their sense of smell to locate food.
This is a very large rat that you’ll find throughout the Caribbean islands. The IUCN has this type of rodent listed as threatened, but they are widespread and common. They can get up to 18 inches long at full maturity. They have stout bodies with small tails, and you’ll see a larger head. This rodent is a herbivore, but they can also eat smaller animals. Instead of burrowing in the ground, they tend to nest in crevices and trees.
21. Kangaroo Rat
This type of rodent is native to the United States, and it has the name due to the bipedal form. It also has a stance that mimics the kangaroo, and it hops like a kangaroo even though it developed this motion form independently. You may hear people call it the hopping mouse, and it has a tail that is longer than the body. They also come with a fur lined cheek pouch that they can use to store food. They’re usually a light brown or dark grey, depending on which species you’re looking at.
A lemming is a smaller type or rodent that you find in very cold places, including the frozen tundra. They’re between five to seven inches long, and they have a more rounded head with black or brown coloring. They have a hairy snout with a shorter tail, and they have smaller ears with short legs. They eat moss and plants, but they can also forage for bulbs and berries.
23. Lowland Paca
This is a larger type of rodent that you find in South and Central America, and it’s very closely related to the agouti. It has a coarse coat in black or dark brown coloring, and the belly is a lighter yellow-tinged fur. You’ll see three to five rows of white spots on the side with a darker grey fur over the top. They can live for roughly 13 years, and they reach maturity at around a year. They can weigh up to 26 pounds.
Mus is a rodent genus that is more commonly called mice. They can relate to other types of rodents, but mice are usually one of the most well-known rodent species in the world. It’s a smaller animal with a very high breeding rate, and you can find it in domestic and wild settings. A lot of people keep them as pets, and they’re also popular animals to use in medical experiments.
This is a larger family of rodents that includes gerbils, hamsters, voles, and rats. You can find them throughout six continents, excluding Antarctica. Currently, it encompasses 6 families, 19 subfamilies, and an impressive 1,750 species.
If you live near a body of water or have a larger pond in your yard, you may stumble across this type or rodent. This is a semi-aquatic rodent with brown coloring and a hairless tail. They’re well-known for the musky odor in their urine. They can get roughly 20 inches long at full maturity, and they tend to live in larger colonies. They create a huge network of underground tunnels along the sides of ponds or waterway banks, and this can lead to flooding and collapse. They also have a reputation for gnawing on tree bark and other vegetation, so it’s a good idea to discourage them from hanging around your yard.
27. Norway Rats
Norway rats are a very widespread type of rodent that you can find throughout the United States. This is a mostly nocturnal rat that burrows underneath concrete slabs or into piles of garbage, and they tend to get inside houses in the fall months when the weather starts to cool down. They like to nest in crawl spaces, basements, and other undisturbed spaces in the house.
They can cause a huge amount of property damage if you leave them unchecked because they can gnaw through different materials, including lead and plastic pipes. They’re also very big disease carriers, including jaundice, plague, the cowpox virus, and rat-bite fever. They can bring mites and fleas inside too.
28. Old World Porcupine
This type of rodent got the name because you find it in India, Africa, the Levant, and in Europe. It’s very different from the New World Porcupine that you find in South America and in the United States. It has a heavy and stout build with a rounded head. They also have a mobile snout and a coat of flattened, thick spines that cover the body. The spines don’t intermingle with ordinary fur. This is another herbivore, and they like to eat roots and fruit, and they’ll even gnaw on dry bones to get calcium. This is usually a docile rodent, but they can be extremely dangerous if you provoke them.
29. Pack Rat
As the name suggests, this type of rodent has a classic rat-like appearance with large ears and a longer tail and black eyes. They’re bigger than deer mice and grasshopper mice, and they can get as big as cotton rats. If you see one, they look like an overgrown squirrel. They’re native to Mexico, the US, and the Sonoran desert. You may even be able to find them in the wild in the Canadian Rockies. They like to eat twigs, vegetation, shoots, cacti, fruits, seeds, and acorns.
This is a rodent genus that looks like squirrels because they have a long, bushy tail with pointed ears. The long hind legs resemble what you’d see with a kangaroo. You’ll find them in Eastern and Southern Africa, and they’re a nocturnal type of rodent. They sleep all day in the burrows and tunnels they dig, and they eat vegetable matter and roots.
31. Prairie Dog
Prairie dogs are a type of rodent that is native to the Great Plains. It’s a member of the squirrel family, and they’re not likely to cause any damage to your home. However, they can severely impact your garden and yard. They have a white belly with light brown fur and black-tipped tail. They live in colonies and burrow underground, and one animal is capable of eating two pounds of flowers, grass, roots, shoots, and seeds every day.
This will make short work of your vegetable garden and lawn. You can discourage an infestation of prairie dogs by installing things that impede their view ilke hay bales or fences. You also want to keep an eye out for colony signs, including clipped vegetation, mounds of dirt, and small holes.
Rats are some of the most commonly identified types of rodents in the world. You can tell them apart from mice due to the coloring and size, and they usually have grey fur with very long tails. Almost all common rodents you find in commercial buildings or houses get referred to as rats. This rodent has a very negative reputation due to the fact that they were carriers of the bubonic plague or Black Death.
Squirrels are types of rodents that you can find in gardens, forests, parks, and jungles. There are several squirrel types around, including ground squirrels, tree squirrels, chipmunks, flying squirrels, and marmots. You can find them all over in different parts of the world. They usually live in trees and have a very bushy tail. Their diet typically includes several different types of nuts, and they usually store them in the ground or in trees.
This is a type of rodent that is native to North and South America. They have very short legs with cylindrical bodies, and they can be anything from light grey to black in color. The long forefeet allow them to burrow into the ground, and the bristled hind feet allow them to groom themselves. They have small ears, large heads, and hairy tails, and they can weigh up to two pounds. They live in burrows and spend most of their lives underground, and they make up 45% of all underground rodents around the world.
The final type of rodent on the list is the vole, and this rodent works to compromise your garden and yard by burrowing huge tunnel systems under the ground and feeding on small plants, bulbs, and root systems. They’re better known as field mice or meadow mice, and they’re smaller grey or brown rodents that have a longer tail and small ears and eyes.
They can get up to eight-inches long, and there are currently dozens of species throughout the United States. They produce very quickly, and this can lead to an infestation that can damage your property. You want to keep the plants and lawn well trimmed and limit weed growth to discourage them.
We’ve outlined 35 types of rodents that you may be able to find around your garden and home, and you want to take steps to discourage them from hanging around due to their destructive natures. The short descriptions will allow you to get a decent idea of which one you have, and you can take steps to get rid of them to help save your yard or garden.