home   about   search

biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Rodentia (rodents, including squirrels, mice, rats, Spring Hare, molerats, porcupines)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Synapsida (mammal-like reptiles) > Therapsida > Theriodontia >  Cynodontia > Mammalia (mammals) > Placentalia (placental mammals) > Euarchontaglires > Glires

Families indigenous or naturalised in southern Africa



Sciuridae (squirrels)

Eurasia, Africa, Americas.


Muridae (mice, rats, gerbils, hamsters, etc.) 



Pedetidae (Spring Hare Pedetes capensis

One species: Pedetes capensis (Springhare), indigenous from South Africa to S Kenya. It is a distinctive species with its hindlegs adapted for jumping. It looks not unlike a kangaroo in habit but is in fact a rodent. It inhabits areas that are moderately open with short grass and it also needs compacted sandy soil in which to make its burrow. It is entirely nocturnal and feeds exclusively on vegetable matter, particularly grass, grass roots, and seeds.


Myoxidae  (dormice)

 [= Gliridae]

Europe, Asia, Africa.




Bathyergidae (African molerats) 

Africa S of the Sahara.


Hystricidae (Old-world porcupines) 

Africa, S Asia. The only species in southern Africa is the Porcupine Hystrix africaeaustralis. It is the largest rodent in southern Africa. It has a distinctive appearance with its protective body covering of long rigid quills and flexible spines, banded in black and white.


Petromuridae (Dassie-rat Petromus typicus

One species: Petromus typicus (Dassie rat), indigenous to Namibia, southern Angola.


Thryonomyidae (cane rats) 

Africa S of the Sahara.


Families not encountered in southern Africa: Agoutidae (agoutis - Central and South America), Aplodontidae (Mountain Beaver Aplodontia rufa - NW USA), Castoridae (beavers - N. America, NW and NC Eurasia), Geomyidae (pocket gophers - USA to Colombia), Heteromyidae (pocket mice, kangaroo-rats - Americas), Dipodidae (jerboas - C Asia to NW Africa), Anomaluridae (scaly-tailed squirrels, flying squirrels - West and Central Africa), Ctenodactylidae (gundis - Sahara), Erethizontidae (New-world porcupines - Americas), Chinchillidae (viscachas, chinchillas - Southern South America), Dinomyidae (Pacarana Dinomys branickii - South America), Caviidae (Guinea pigs - South America), Hydrochaeridae (Capybara Hydrochaerus hydrochaerus - South America),  Dasyproctidae (pacas - Mexico to Brazil), Ctenomyidae (tuco-tucos - Peru - Patagonia), Octodontidae (degus - Southern South America), Abrocomidae (chinchilla-rats - Peru - N Chile), Echimyidae (American spiny rats - Central and South America), Capromyidae (hutias - West Indies), Myocastoridae (Coypu Myocastor coypus - South America).