Animals That Gnaw Their Food (Examples & Pictures)

When we ask about animals that gnaw, we think of mammals with long teeth called rodents. The Latin verb “Rodere,” which means “to gnaw,” is where the term “rodent” originates.

All rodents use their strong incisors to gnaw hard foods, such as woody plants, walnuts, almonds, and other nuts. Occasionally, apart from food purposes, rodents use their powerful teeth to defend against predators.

Rodent teeth are unique in the animal kingdom because their pairs of teeth never stop growing. Their upper and lower teeth are made of enamel, which is harder than iron. And to keep their incisors sharp and worn, these animals need to gnaw regularly.

However, if some of them break or become overgrown, the animal will usually die from being unable to eat.

Without further ado, let’s meet the animals that gnaw:

Examples Of Animals That Gnaw

Beaver

Beavers are animals that live in lakes and rivers, especially in North America and in smaller numbers in Europe. They are true herbivores that prefer woody plants, fruits, roots, herbs, and other vegetation.

Beavers are probably the most famous animals that gnaw. These Mother Nature builders use their teeth as primary tools to build their homes.

In less than 10 minutes, adult beavers can cut down a tree that is 10 feet tall.

More than 200 trees are felled annually by these rodents! Typically, they utilize their strong incisors to chop down trees while standing on their hind legs and hugging the trunk with their front legs.

Squirrels

Squirrels are tree-climbing rodents known for hoarding food in their territories. Since they are omnivores, they consume both meat and vegetation. However, their preferred diet consists of fungi, seeds, walnuts, peanuts and other nuts.

There are more than 200 different species of these animals with bushy tails, and they can be found everywhere.

The largest is the Indian giant squirrel which can grow up to 36 inches (1 meter). The smallest is the African pygmy squirrels, and they grow to only 5 inches (13 cm).

Squirrels usually have 20 teeth, but being gnawing animals, their specialized incisors are the most important, and without them, they wouldn’t be able to survive.

Rats

Animals That Gnaw Their Food

Rats are medium-sized rodents that live in every corner of the planet, except Antarctica. This creature eats everything and anything. However, their perfect foods include whole grains, fruits, seeds, and nuts.

The interesting thing about rats is that despite being commonly associated with dirt, they are one of the cleanest animals in the world, spending hours daily grooming themselves.

Rats are also known to gnaw on various objects. In addition to piercing wood and aluminum, this creature can also cut through concrete and steel!

Their teeth grow up to 5 inches (12.7 cm) annually. So, it’s no surprise that these rats are always gnawing at something.

Guinea Pig

Guinea pigs have become quite popular pets recently. They are small, gentle, lovable creatures that do well with children.

Despite their name, these rodents are not related to pigs or guinea pigs, and the origin of their name is still unknown. Guinea pigs are true vegetarians, and their favorite food is based on fruits and vegetables.

Although it looks like they only have two pairs of incisors, guinea pigs actually have 20 teeth. It is also worth noting that guinea pigs do not have yellow teeth, unlike other rodents. Instead, they ought to have white teeth.

If you get one of these small rodents as a pet, you should provide them with twigs and branches so they can nibble on them and get their teeth down.

Read Also: Cutest Rodents

Capybaras

Capybaras are the largest rodents on the planet. They are semi-aquatic, which means they are creatures that live both on land and in water and are present in practically all of South America.

Like other rodents, capybaras have razor-sharp teeth that they use to browse bark, grasses, and a variety of other vegetation.

Although they spend most of their time in the water, these giants also do well on land, running at speeds of up to 21 mph (35 kph) if chased by predators.

Capybaras are resourceful in both the water and on land, but they are also prey to several predators, which results in an average life span of less than 4 years in the wild. Anacondas, jaguars, caimans, and birds of prey are their main predators in addition to people who kill them for their meat.

Chipmunks

Another gnawing animal from the squirrel family is the chipmunk. There are 25 different species of chipmunks, mostly found in North America.

These small rodents are herbivores, and their diet consists of insects, frogs, worms, grass, twigs, and many other types of plants. Chipmunks are unique in being animals with pouches in their cheeks, which they primarily use to carry their food.

Despite being cute and harmless, chipmunks are considered destructive pests that can be gnawing into various objects and materials and cause damage to the garden, home, and car.

If you have chipmunks infesting your backyard, it’s best to make your property inhospitable to these critters. In other words, keep your backyard tidy by removing bird feeders and fruit trees from the ground.

Read Also: Animals That Eat Nuts

Hamsters

Animals That Gnaw Their Food

Hamsters are small and cute rodents that are found in warm and dry places in Asia and Europe. There are 19 species of hamsters, most of which are nocturnal to avoid various predators.

Being herbivores, hamsters eat both meat and plant foods. However, in the wild, their preferred diet is seeds and grass.

Hamsters are great diggers, and in addition to their legs, they will use their teeth to dig. They have 16 teeth altogether, including 4 incisors and 12 molars.

Interestingly, they are one of the few animals that are born with their teeth.

Porcupines

Animals That Gnaw Their Food

Found in the forests and deserts of Asia, the porcupines of Europe and America are the third largest rodents in the world. A porcupine is a true herbivore and eats twigs, herbs, leaves, and bark.

These rodents are easily recognized by the quills on their backs, which are used as a shield and a defense mechanism against predators. Each animal has at least 30,000 quills!

In addition to their armor, porcupines will emit odors from their teeth and hiss when defending against their enemies. Although they are strict herbivores, porcupines bite bones to keep their teeth small and clean.

Also Read: Animals Without Bones

Groundhogs

Animals That Gnaw Their Food

The biggest members of the squirrel family are groundhogs, often known as woodchucks. They are mostly found in Canada, Alaska and the United States.

Mostly herbivores, groundhogs’ preferred diet includes grasses, berries, crops, and other plants.

Interestingly, they are one of the few animals that go into true hibernation. That is, they drop their body temperature to 40°F while their heart rate drops to just four beats per minute.

Also, unlike most rodents, groundhog teeth are white to ivory white. They have 22 teeth altogether (18 chewing and 4 incisors). Their cuticles grow 1/16 inch each week, so constant gnawing is a mandatory action.

Gerbils

Animals That Gnaw Their Food

Another animal that gnaws, which is also a widely popular pet recently, is the gerbil. There are more than 100 species, native to Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

They are omnivorous rodents, and their favorite foods include insects, fruits, and vegetables. Gerbils have 16 teeth, including 12 molars and 4 incisors.

Because their pellets are constantly growing, these little rodents need to gnaw daily. In the wild, squirrels primarily chew wood to keep their teeth in good condition.

This is why gerbil pets need to be provided with hard material to chew on to keep their teeth healthy.

Gophers

Animals That Gnaw Their Food

Gophers are small rodents that live in the backyards of North America. They spend most of their life underground and are known for their burrowing abilities.

The main reason these rodents build underground burrows is to protect themselves from predators, and this is where they gather their food. However, these tunnels make them unwelcome critics as they destroy fields and orchards.

Gophers use their claws and sharp teeth to dig. They may also close their lips behind their teeth to prevent soil from entering their mouths while digging.

These small rodents are not picky feeders, and their diet consists of a variety of juicy vegetables, such as carrots, lettuce, and radishes. They will also eat plate roots and shrubs.

Marmots

Animals That Gnaw Their Food

The last member of our list of animals that gnaw is the marmot. Marmots are large rodents that live in the mountains and plains of North America, Asia, and Europe.

They spend about 80% of their lives underground, while their complex burrows are connected by many entrances, tunnels and exits.

Underground burrows are used for safe movement, breeding, food storage and hibernation. Marmots are generally peaceful creatures, but when threatened, they will use their sharp knife edges as a defensive weapon.

The majority of their diet consists of forbs and grasses. Before hibernation, marmots double their weight to ensure they survive the winter.

Muskrats

Animals That Gnaw Their Food

Europe, North America, South America, and Asia are all home to the medium-sized rodent known as the muskrat. Due to their semi-aquatic lifestyle, they are commonly found in a wide range of wetlands.

The majority of their food intake is based on aquatic plants (95%). However, they will occasionally supplement their diet with snails, small fish and clams.

Muskrats have their incisors on the outside of their mouths so they can use their teeth underwater without getting water in their lungs. In addition, these mice are expert swimmers, and have the ability to hold their breath for up to 12 minutes!

Final Thoughts On Animals That Gnaw

With this, we complete our list of animals that gnaw. Many more animals that gnaw are not mentioned, such as Nutria, Leming, Pedetes, Kangaroo Rat, Gundi, Hystrix, Hutia, and others. Although they have different adaptations and physical traits, grinding teeth is a characteristic shared by every member of the rodent group.

A rodent’s teeth are the most important weapon for survival, while overgrowth can lead to pain, inability to chew, and eventually death. Nature can be both beautiful and cruel, and grinding strong iron teeth for rodents is a task not to be missed.

Thank you for reading.

I hope you learned something new today about this fascinating group of animals known as rodents.

If you like this type of article, I recommend you to read a similar one – Animals with fur

Animals That Gnaw Their Food
animals tha gnaw

Title: Animals That Gnaw Their Food

Description: When we ask about animals that gnaw, we think of mammals with long teeth called rodents. The Latin verb "Rodere," which means "to gnaw," is where the term "rodent" originates.

Start date: January 13, 2023

Author: Muhammad Ali

  • Quality - 94
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Summary

With this, we complete our list of animals that gnaw. Many more animals that gnaw are not mentioned, such as Nutria, Leming, Pedetes, Kangaroo Rat, Gundi, Hystrix, Hutia, and others. Although they have different adaptations and physical traits, grinding teeth is a characteristic shared by every member of the rodent group.
A rodent’s teeth are the most important weapon for survival, while overgrowth can lead to pain, inability to chew, and eventually death. Nature can be both beautiful and cruel, and grinding strong iron teeth for rodents is a task not to be missed.
Thank you for reading.
I hope you learned something new today about this fascinating group of animals known as rodents.

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