Order Rodentia

North American porcupine

Erethizon dorsatum

Northern flying squirrel

Glaucomys sabrinus

North American beaver

Castor canadensis

The Order Rodentia contains mammals with single pair of continuously growing incisors in each of the upper and lower jaws. They are a varied order that includes beavers, porcupines, groundhogs, rats, mice, guinea pigs, and squirrels. Rodents, from mice to beavers, are commonly seen as pests- due in part, no doubt, to their tendency to see our houses and decide that they want to live there, too.

Common Myths

Myth: Porcupines shoot their quills.

Truth: Nope. Porcupines are not physically capable of shooting their quills. The quills of a porcupine are modified hairs; when they come into contact with skin (or blankets, towels, etc.), tiny barbs on the outer points hook into the other surface and stick there. Porcupines can be very fast with their whip-like tail, however, and quickly slamming their tails into predators may have contributed to this rumor.

Myth: Groundhogs are useless pests.

Truth: Researchers at Cornell University hail the groundhog for its contributions into their study of liver disease. In the wildlife world, vacated groundhog burrows provide shelter for foxes, opossums, raccoons, rabbits, skunks, and many other species of animal. At the end of the day, we shouldn't have to have a use for wildlife in order to keep them around! Even if they don't help us directly, all animals play an important part in their local ecosystem.

Myth: Squirrels can remember exactly where they buried all of their acorns.

Truth: Although they can certainly remember many of their cache spots, squirrels commonly forget some- and voila, a tree is born. Some scientists attribute entire forests to squirrel forgetfulness.