Rodents are relatively small animals that have a single pair of constantly growing incisor teeth specialized for gnawing. Because the incisors are enameled on the front only, the working of upper teeth against lower ones wears away the softer inner surfaces more rapidly, producing a sharp, beveled edge ideal for gnawing. Incisors grow throughout the animals life (if they didn't they would be worn away), and rodents must gnaw enough to keep them from growing too long.
Rodents have bulbous eyes on the sides of the head, which enable them to see forward or behind, detecting danger over a wide arc. Most, bu not all, have four toes on their forefeet and five on their hindfeet. Most rodents are nocturnal and remain active throughout the year.
Squirrels - Family Sciuridae
Eastern Chipmunk Tamias striatus. Common. Found statewide, except for extreme southwestern and southeastern regions. Occupies wooded areas with dense canopy and sparsely covered forest floor, open brushy habitats, ravines, deciduous growth along streams, and urban areas. Gestation 31-32 days; two litters averaging four to five young produced each year. Seeds, nuts, insects, other invertebrates, and fungi are important foods. Lowest Conservation Concern.
Woodchuck Marmota monax. Poorly known. Distribution includes northern two-thirds of state. Occupies forest edges and open fields and pastures near brushy fencerows or other cover Breeding occurs upon emergence from hibernation in spring. Gestation 31-33 days; one litter averaging four to five young produced annually. Diet includes various weedy plants, but clover and alfalfa favored. Fruits and agricultural crops also consumed. Lowest Conservation Concern.
Gray Squirrel Sciurus carolinensis. Common. Found statewide in hardwood forests, mixed forests, and urban areas. An important game species, active throughout year. Two litters of two to four young born annually, one in late winter and another in summer; gestation about 44 days. Diet includes seeds, fruits, flowers, leaves, bark, and some insects, eggs, and young birds. Lowest Conservation Concern.
Fox Squirrel Sciurus
Southern Flying Squirrel Glaucomys volans. Found statewide. Most common in mature, broad-leaved forests, but also found in coniferous-deciduous woodlands, and urban areas. Nocturnal existence belies its common occurrence. Breeds in mid-summer to early winter. Gestation about 40 days, with an average litter size of two to three. Foods are nuts of deciduous trees, such as oaks and hickories, but also consumes seeds, fruits, buds, bark, fungi, insects, eggs, and small vertebrates. Lowest Conservation Concern.
Pocket Gophers - Family Geomyidae
Southeastern Pocket Gopher Geomys pinetis. Poorly known. Seemingly less common now than previously; once occupied southern half of
Beavers - Family Castoridae
Beaver Castor canadensis. Once extirpated, or nearly so, now common. Found statewide in all habitats with open water. Considered a pest in some areas, because of flooding caused by construction of dams. In April-June, three to five young born after a gestation of about 107 days. Sexual maturity reached at two years. Diet includes leaves, branches, and bark of most kinds of woody plants that grow near water. Lowest Conservation Concern.
Rats and Mice - Family Muridae
Marsh Rice Rat Oryzomys palustris. Common and found statewide in wet meadows and dense vegetation near marshes, swamps, streams, ponds, and ditches. Probably breeds throughout year. Gestation 21-28 days, average litter size four to five, and sexual maturity attained at six to eight weeks. Diet includes seeds and green plants, but insects, snails, and other animal materials are consumed. Lowest Conservation concern.
Eastern Harvest Mouse Reithrodontomys humulis. Poorly known. Once common in old fields containing dense stands of weeds and grasses, but may be declining in
Oldfield Mouse Peromyscus polionotus. Poorly known. Primarily distributed in sandy-soiled habitats in eastern and southern
Alabama Beach Mouse P. polionotus ammobates. Known only from coastal dune areas of
Perdido Key Beach Mouse P. polionotus trissylepsis. Known only from Perdido Key,
Cotton Mouse Peromyscus gossypinus. Common. Found statewide in dense underbrush, bottomland hardwood forests, and a variety of other habitats, including old fields, upland forests, hammocks, and swamps. Except for summer, breeds year-round. Gestation about 23 days; litter size averages four. This opportunistic omnivore consumes insects, spiders, slugs, and snails, but also eats seeds and fungi. Lowest Conservation concern.
White-footed Mouse Peromyscus leucopus. Poorly known. Occurs in northern two-thirds of state. Common in woodlands with fallen logs, brush piles, and rocks, and in shrubs along fencerows and streams. Breeds year-round, with reduced activity in summer. Several litters of three to four produced annually; gestation 22-23 days. Females may be pregnant and lactating simultaneously. Diet includes seeds, nuts, fruits, other plant materials, and small invertebrates. Lowest Conservation concern.
Golden Mouse Ochrotomys nuttalli. Common in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, floodplains, borders of fields, and thickets bordering swamps and dense woods. Highly social; up to eight have been found in same nest. Breeding occurs all year. Gestation 25-30 days; litter size usually two to three. Seeds and invertebrates form majority of diet. Lowest Conservation concern.
Hispid Cotton Rat Sigmodon hispidus. Found statewide, especially in grassy areas of fields and along roadways. Populations fluctuate greatly among years, but usually abundant in densely vegetated habitats. Active day and night. Prolific breeder; gestation about 27 days; one to 15 young per litter; and young mature in about eight weeks. Primarily herbivorous, but will consume invertebrates, small vertebrates, and bird eggs. Lowest Conservation Concern.
Eastern Woodrat Neotoma floridana. Poorly known. No recent surveys; populations may be declining. Occupies woodland and brushy habitats south of
Allegheny Woodrat Neotoma magister. Probably restricted to region north of
Prairie Vole Microtus ochrogaster. Poorly known. Occupies areas with dense grasses, such as pastures, roadsides, and edges of fields in north-central
Pine Vole Microtus pinetorum. Found statewide, except for southwestern section. Occu-pies a wide range of habitats, including leaf litter, grassy fields with brush and brambles, and beneath mats of dense vegetation. Breeds throughout year; gestation about three weeks; average litter size three; young fully mature at 10-12 weeks. Diet includes grasses, stems, roots, seeds, nuts, and bark, which are stored in burrows. Low Conservation Concern.
Muskrat Ondatra zibethicus. Found nearly statewide, except counties bordering Florida Panhandle. Habitats include saline, brackish, and freshwater streams; marshes; ponds; lakes; ditches; and rivers. Produces up to five to six litters of six to seven young annually. Gestation about 30 days. Feeds mostly on roots and basal parts of aquatic vegetation, but also crayfish, fishes, mollusks, turtles, and other animal matter. Lowest Conservation Concern.
Black Rat Rattus rattus. Exotic. Breeder. Also called “roof rat” because of its climbing capabilities. A commensal (“sharing the table”) rodent brought to the
Norway Rat Rattus norvegicus. Exotic. Breeder. Also known as “sewer or wharf rat.” A commensal rodent brought to the
House Mouse Mus musculus. Exotic. Breeder. A commensal rodent brought to the
Jumping Mice and Jerboas - Family Dipodidae
Meadow Jumping Mouse Zapus hudsonius. Poorly known. Populations may be declining, but no recent surveys. Found primarily in Piedmont region of northeastern
Nutrias - Family Myocastoridae
Nutria Myocaster coypus. Exotic. Breeder. A South American native introduced into the
Mirarchi. Ralph E., ed. 2004. Alabama Wildlife, Volume One. A Checklist of Vertebrates and Selected Invertebrates: Aquatic Mollusks, Fishes, Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds and Mammals. The University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, AL. 209 pp.