All rodents are members of a group of mammals called the Rodentia order.
Almost half of all mammal species in the world are rodents, ranging from
the huge, pig-sized cabybaras from South America to the UK’s tiniest rodent
– the harvest mouse (6 cm long). Rodents are found on all continents except
Here at Hartpury we keep lots of small rodents from many parts of the world,
including chinchillas and degus from South America, the African spiny mouse,
jirds from Asia, gerbils from Mongolia, Syrian hamsters and the large Gambian
All rodents share one thing in common – they have one set of incisor (cutting)
teeth that never stop growing. So rodents have to gnaw to keep their teeth
trimmed. This makes them very destructive little creatures that need plenty
of chew toys!
Most rodents are herbivores, preferring a diet of seeds and plants. Some, like
the Gambian Pouched Rat, also like insects and snails. Many rodent species
become pests in the wild as they reproduce very successfully and love to eat
food stored by humans – especially grains and cereals.
Many small rodents make great pets. They are often sociable animals that will
bond with people if handled gently and given lots of enrichment and play.
They each have their own needs, sleeping habits, social habits and preferred foods,
so it is really important to research a particular rodent before owning one.
Some of our Hartpury small rodent species will live up to 12 years in captivity.
Gambian pouched rats have a very keen sense of smell and can be trained
to detect land mines and tuberculosis. The trained pouched rats are called