Short answer, yes. Hamsters are rodents. But that is no bad thing! In fact, around 40% of mammal species on Earth are rodents, so they are definitely not alone. Nor is this a bad thing, as we will see being rodents means hamsters are part of the Rodentia order of mammals which is just a way we classify different animals.
That is it. It doesn’t make them smelly, or diseased, or scary… in fact, most of them are the cuddliest creatures you will ever meet!
What are rodents?
Okay we have said that hamsters are rodents, which makes them part of the Rodentia order of mammals, but what does that actually mean?
Well, all it really means is that they have a single pair of incisors at the front of both their upper and lower jaw. These are the cutting teeth in your mouth and humans have them too! The difference is that we have four in each jaw at the front of our mouths which are the similar size to the rest of our teeth, and they just have two pairs of really big ones. They are also much sharper than ours to allow hamsters and other rodents to cut into tough foods. Finally unlike our teeth on rodents these keep on growing, which is why you need to make sure your hamster always has plenty of toys and treats to gnaw on so they can wear their teeth down to stop them getting too big which can be very bad for them.
Rodents do also tend to be small and furry, but they don’t have to be. In fact, around 3 million years ago, there was a species of rodent that looked just like a hamster, but could grow to be over five times as heavy as a fully grown man! These Josephoartigasia Monesi as they have been called could have teeth as long as a classroom ruler, which goes to show that while rodents haven’t always been small and cuddly, they have always had their distinctive front incisors.
Is being a rodent bad?
As you can probably tell by now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with rodents!
In reality, while they have a bit of a bad reputation as people often associate them with being dirty and diseased, this is simply not true. A lot of this comes from rats, who many people simply cannot stand, and though we agree it is a bit frightening to find a wild one scurrying around your home, for the most part this treatment is pretty unfair.
People’s fear of rats goes back to the middle ages when they were wrongly blamed for spreading The Black Death and since then they have had an undeserved reputation for being carriers of illness around the world. You definitely should not touch or approach a wild rat, but to suggest they are dirtier than any other wild animals is just not true.
What other rodents are there?
With 40% of the mammal species on our planet being rodents, we couldn’t list them all here. However, there are a few common rodents that you will likely have heard of and so we thought it worth giving you a few here, and those are:
- Hamsters (of course)
- Guinea Pigs
As you can see rodents are actually very varied and are definitely not something to be feared or avoided. With this in mind, next time you or someone you know is wondering if hamsters, yes, yes they are, and proudly so!
If you want to fin out more you might like to read about Albino Hamsters.