The order Rodentia, or rodent, comes from the Latin verb "rodere," meaning to gnaw. The number of incisors in the rodent’s mouth is reduced compared to other mammals, having one on each side above and below without any canine teeth. It also has one to two premolars in the upper and lower jaw. Rodents are typically smaller in size and make up more than one-third of the different kinds of mammals on the Earth. Texas has 64 species of native rodents in different families.
The Sciuridae family represents squirrels and their allies, prairie dogs. The Sciuridae family also include the gray-footed chipmunk, Texas antelope squirrel, Mexican ground squirrel, spotted ground squirrel, thirteen-lined ground squirrel, rock squirrel, black-tailed prairie dog, Eastern gray squirrel, Eastern fox squirrel and the Eastern flying squirrel. Eastern gray squirrels are commonly found in neighborhoods, live in trees and feed mainly on acorns. They also eat different types of grasses, larval and adult insects and some small amphibians.
The Geomyidae family represents pocket gophers. Texas is home to the Botta’s, Desert, Attwater’s, Baird’s, Plains, Jones’, Texas, Llano and Yellow-faced pocket gophers. Pocket gophers are distributed throughout Texas, from Trans-Peco to the Panhandle. Pocket gophers typically live underground and burrow tunnels to make their homes. They eat plants, roots, stems, weeds and grasses. Some pocket gophers also feed on acorns.
The Heteromyidae family represents pocket mice and kangaroo rats. Pocket mice include the Plains, Silky, Merriam’s, Hispid, Rock, Nelson’s, Desert and Mexican Spiny. There are five kangaroo rat species in Texas: Gulf Coast, Texas, Merriam’s, Ord’s and Banner-tailed. The Hispid pocket mouse is most common in the state of Texas, being present statewide, except for the Southeastern part of the state. They feed on mostly vegetation and seeds, at times eating grasshoppers, caterpillars and beetles.
The Castoridae family represents the beaver. The American beaver is one of the larger rodents in Texas. Both sexes are the same color. American beavers are found statewide and must live by the water at ponds, streams, lakes or rivers to thrive. American beavers use their dam-building skills to regulate water levels and maintain the flow of water. They feed on vegetation, mainly grasses and the yellow water lily in the summer months.
The Muridae family represents mice and rats in Texas. These include Coues’ rice rat, Marsh rice rat, and the Fulvous, Eastern, Western and Plains harvest mice. There also are the Texas, Brush, Cactus, Cotton, White-footed, Deer, Northern Rock, White-ankled, Pinon, Golden and Northern pygmy mice. Two kinds of grasshopper mice in Texas include the Mean’s and Northern. Cotton rats include the Tawny-bellied, Hispid and Yellow-nosed. Wood rats include White-throated, Eastern, Mexican and Southern Plains. The Norway rat, house mouse and roof rat are commonly found in all areas of Texas. House mice, Norway and roof rats typically feed on anything that offers nutritional value to humans. In the wild, house mice feed on alfalfa hay in stocks or stacks.