People love foxes.
These beautiful animals with delicate faces and bushy tails are known for their intelligence and playfulness. Some fox owners even say that they have all the best bits of cats and dogs merged into one.
However, there is some confusion as to which species the foxes belong to.
Some seem to wonder if foxes are marsupials, while others consider them to be part of the rodent family.
Well, are foxes rodents?
In this post, we’ll address some widespread misconceptions and break down the differences between these two animal groups.
Are Foxes Rodents?
No, foxes are not rodents and do not belong to the rodent family. Instead, foxes belong to the family Canidae, together with domestic dogs, wolves, jackals, and other species.
Foxes are one of over 280 species of the order Carnivora, the fifth-largest order of mammals.
Rodents, on the other hand, belong to a completely different order called Rodentia.
This simply means that foxes are not classified as rodents.
Let’s explain this more simply and in detail.
Foxes Are Taxonomically Different From Rodents
In biology, there are millions of different plants, animals, bacteria, fungi, etc.
To better understand them, scientists organized all of these organisms into different groups called taxa.
Remember how a grocery store is organized?
One huge building is divided into departments such as fruit, dairy, meats, cosmetics, etc. Then, each department is further divided into aisles, every aisle into categories and brands, and then finally we get to the individual products.
This organization from larger to smaller, more specific categories, is called a taxonomic hierarchical system in biology.
At the top, the largest category is called domain. This is our grocery store building.
Within each domain, there is a second category called a kingdom. This is our store department.
After kingdoms, the subsequent smaller categories are phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species.
The more categories two animals share in common, the more closely they are related!
Foxes and rodents belong to the same kingdom, Animalia, or animals. They are both members of the same phylum, Chordata, and of the same class, Mammalia, or mammals.
This is where the relationship between these animals stops; rodents are members of the order Rodentia, while foxes are members of the order Carnivora.
If we go even further, the differences between the two increase.
Foxes belong to the Canidae family, while rodents can belong to one of 30 different rodent families.
The Canidae family started its evolutionary journey some 35 million years ago, as the first canids first appeared in North America during the Late Eocene epoch.
Foxes are also members of the Caninae, one of three subfamilies found within the Canidae family.
Rodents Are The Largest Animal Order
The rodent family is the largest order of animals today – scientists estimate that almost half of all mammal species are rodents.
They are native to all major landmasses except for New Zealand, Antarctica, and several oceanic islands, but people have been slowly introducing them there as well.
They are a very adaptable and widespread group of animals; rodents can be found in almost every terrestrial habitat, including human-made environments.
Examples of rodents include mice, rats, squirrels, prairie dogs, porcupines, beavers, guinea pigs, and hamsters.
The largest species of rodents is the capybara, which can weigh as much as 146 pounds!
These gnawing animals have no canine teeth and instead have incisors that continuously grow. Specifically, they have two pairs of sharp incisor teeth, one pair in the lower and another in the upper jaw.
Those long teeth help rodents gnaw food, excavate burrows, and defend themselves.
Most rodents are herbivores and feed on plants (some are carnivores).
Unlike rodents, foxes have 4 prominent canine teeth to catch, grip, and kill their prey.
Foxes are excellent hunters and will often chase down and eat small rodents such as mice and rats.
In conclusion, foxes are neither rodents nor marsupials. Foxes are animals that belong to the order of placental mammals called Carnivora.
Carnivores can be divided into two groups: the cat-like Feliformia, and the dog-like Caniformia.
The main difference between the two is the structure of their ear bones and some skull features.
The feliforms include cats, hyenas, mongooses, and civets, while the caniforms include foxes, bears, raccoons, minks, otters, seals, etc.
The main difference between foxes and rodents is that foxes do not have as pronounced incisor teeth as rodents do. Most rodents are herbivores and lack the canine teeth of foxes.
Rodents are the largest order of small mammals, and one of the most common of all animal types.
And if you were pondering on the question “are foxes rodents”, we hope this article removed all doubts.
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