Are Rabbits Classified as Rodents? (The History and Difference)

Are Rabbits Classified As Rodents

There are so many rabbit facts that need to be clarified. If it is your first time owning them, you probably have many questions in mind. One is, do rabbits fall in the same family as rodents? The answer is no.  

Rabbits and rodents are not the same. Although they share a bit of similarity regarding their physical aspect, different factors also separate them.   

In this article, we will delve deeper into the factors that differentiate rabbits and rodents. 


Rabbits are mammals that have been a companion to humans for years now. According to the MSD Veterinary Manual, they are small and have fluffy fur. They have been classified into different factors such as breed, size, and color. Because of that, the popularity of adopting a rabbit has increased over the years. 

These animals were originally found in Europe and Africa; however, they have occupied almost all regions except for a few, like Madagascar, Southern South America, and some areas in islands of Southeast Asia. They are very social creatures and live in groups.

Their personality is also the best. They are playful but affectionate to their owner. However, simple things such as loud noises and strong smells make them easily distressed. 

However, rabbits can also be found in the wild. Wild rabbits are much fiercer than domesticated rabbits. They developed that kind of personality to survive in their environment. 

Wild rabbits tend to live shorter than domesticated animals because of many competitors when hunting for food. Although rabbits can live by eating plants, since there are predators, they are more susceptible to dangers.      

More about Rabbits: Rabbits Facts: The Common Question About Your Rabbits 


Rodents are small mammals. There are over 2000 species of the rodent family, including rats, beavers, mice, and many more. They make up about a third of the mammal species on the planet. Since they are one of the most successful animals in the mammal order, you can find a rodent on almost all continents except Antarctica. In fact, you can even find a rodent in the most isolated places on Earth.        

These animals are known to be adaptable to their environment, which is why many people have difficulty controlling their population. They are also intelligent, that when they sense a trap, they can signal to other family members not to go near the trap. 

Rodents are often seen as dirty animals because they can live in small, dark areas like sewers. Oregon State University stated that rodents are also classified as pests. Aside from that, because they live on dirty surfaces, they can be a transmission mode to different diseases.    

One known disease in rodents is leptospirosis. A disease caused by a bacterial infection usually comes from the rodent’s urine. It can affect both humans and animals and is sometimes the cause of early death. Any species that the bacteria have contaminated will experience the following clinical symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Body Aches
  • Muscle Pain
  • Diarrhea 
  • Rashes

Rabbits and Rodents History

It makes sense when someone thinks rabbits and rodents belong to the same family. A New Ulm Regional Veterinary Center article claims that not before the 20th century, the rabbit was part of the Rodentia class (rodents) along with squirrels and marmots. 

They are both small mammals. Meaning they give birth without hatching an egg. They also nourished their offspring through a special body cycle by producing milk. The mother animal takes care of the baby until they develop a strong body to survive living on its own. 

But during the 20th century, many people studied and concluded that rabbits and rodents should not belong to the same family. Today rabbits are under the Lagomorpha family. It is divided into two classes: Leporidae consisting of rabbits and hares. And Ochotonidae, which are the pikas

Difference Between Rabbits and Rodents


One of the key differences between rodents from rabbits is the teeth incisors. According to the University of California, rabbits have an extra pair of incisors. They also added that some bone structures of both animals are not similar. This is due to the different lifestyles that suit the rabbits and rodents. 

Rodents have a single pair of incisors at the top and bottom jaw. Their teeth are wider at the base and have sharp edges resembling a chisel or the edge of a saw. Their teeth are also continuously growing until they age. This is one of the reasons why most rodents love chewing on hard material to maintain their incisor teeth quality. 

When it comes to rabbits, their teeth are also growing continuously. However, unlike rodents, they like to gnaw on not-too-hard materials, like carrots or plants. 


Rabbits and rodents have different diets. That is why their body’s nutritional needs are also different. Rabbits are known to be herbivores. They are plant feeders because they have a sensitive digestive system. 

Fiber is their primary nourishment to help them metabolize food and distribute other nutrients in the body. Although, it is also ideal for giving them a variety of food like fruits and vegetables. But you must remember that overfeeding other nourishment can result in diarrhea in rabbits. 

Here are the foods that Rabbit Can Safely Eat:

On the contrary, rodents’ diet is much more than rabbits. They are classified as omnivores, so they can survive on plants and meats. Although rodents are more on the greener side, when they see and smell meat, they will not hesitate to eat it. 

Unlike rabbits, meat is unsuitable for their digestion. Meat is rich in protein that the rabbit’s body needs less. 


Another main difference between rabbits and rodents is their capacity to reproduce. Although both can have many offspring in a single birth, rabbits are much faster to reproduce. Rabbits breed up to five times a year and produce more than 30 babies. Rodents are far less productive, with their breeding having only 10 babies. 

The National Library of Medicine says that is why controlling the population of mammal animals is a problem. Sometimes it can also result in the neglect of the animals if there are many unwanted pregnancies. One solution that many veterinarian doctors suggest is to get their pet spayed and neutered to avoid overpopulation in a single household. 


Both rabbits and rodents share impeccable intelligence. However, they vary in terms of their usage. Rodents are highly cognitive animals commonly used in laboratory testing. They are known to process information easily based on their current state. Rats are also known to have metacognition, where they acknowledge their mistakes and learn from them. The only other animals that share this ability are primates and humans.

Rabbits, on the other hand, are considered intelligent and can construct a complex network of tunnels. They are also very receptive to a stimulus; thus, they can keep a lookout for predators. Rabbits are also used to learn basic tricks and commands. They are great companion pets because they can also learn a wide variety of human words and often learn through repetition. 

Key Takeaways

  • Rabbits and Rodents do not belong to the same family. Rodents are classified as rodents, and rabbits are under lagomorph.
  • Rabbits and Rodents are both small mammals. They give birth through their reproductive system and nourish their offspring with milk. 
  • Up until the 20th Century, Rabbits were part of the Rodentia family. But because of differences, it has been decided to classify the rabbits into a different family class. 
  • Rabbits have an extra pair of incisors than rodents. That is why they love to gnaw on things like carrots and plants. 
  • Rabbits are herbivores, while rodents are omnivores.
  • Rabbits can produce more offspring than rodents, having 30 litters per year. Unlike rodents, they can reproduce up to 10 liters only. 
  • Rodents are cognitive animals. In comparison, rabbits are receptive to stimuli and have a basic understanding of tricks and commands.           
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