Rodents

Rodentia is the largest order of Mammals, with nearly 2,000 species worldwide (about 40% of all the living mammals).  Most rodents have 4 toes on the front foot and five on the hind foot.  All rodents have similar teeth: one pair of upper and one pair of lower incisors, then a large gap and several pairs of chewing teeth.  This incisor teeth grow continuously throughout life and have chisel-like cutting edges. (Peterson’s Guide to Mammals of North America, page 177).

Here is a neat way to use a quarter to determine chipmunk vs red squirrel vs grey squirrel, shared by Chris Earley – an amazing naturalist and author of several nature guides: “I use the quarter to get a sense of the size of the tracks, plus I can extrapolate it for measuring if needed. In general, I find the hind foot track of a chipmunk to be smaller than the quarter, the red squirrel to be about the same width as the quarter and a gray squirrel to be bigger than the quarter. This is for snow tracks – in sand the tracks may be more spread out.”

Alexis Burnett shared another cool tracking tip for measuring the trail width of rodents (may also work for measuring the diameter of burrows and holes):
Put up one finger = diameter of a shrew hole
Put up two fingers = the diameter of a vole hole
Put up three fingers = the diameter of a chipmunk hole
Put up four fingers = the diameter of a red squirrel hole
Make a fist = the diameter of a grey squirrel hole
A child’s head = the diameter of a groundhog hole (I added this one).

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