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With 64 different species on the books, rodents account for a third of all mammals in the Lone Star State, according to Texas Tech University. Rodents belong to the family Rodentia, which comes from the Latin word for "gnaw." Rodents don’t have canines, instead sporting a large set of incisors. Texas is home to a variety of rodents including squirrels, gophers, mice and rats.
Squirrels belong to the family Sciuridae, and Texas is home to seven different species. In the same family, gray-footed chipmunks and black-tailed prairie dogs also live in Texas. The eastern fox squirrel and eastern gray squirrel are tree squirrels common in the eastern half of the state. Ground squirrels, like the Mexican ground squirrel, are found in west Texas.
Some nine species of pocket gophers are native to Texas, belonging to the family Geomyidae. Species include the desert pocket gopher, plains pocket gopher and Texas pocket gopher. Pocket gophers are small, elusive creatures that spend their whole lives underground. Mounds of dirt on the surface indicate where their tunnel systems are.
Pocket Mice and Kangaroo Rats
Belonging to the family Heteromyidae, kangaroo rats and pocket mice are neither mice nor rats. Thirteen species are found in Texas, including the Texas kangaroo rat and the Gulf Coast kangaroo rat. Kangaroo rats have large hind legs that allow them to move primarily by hopping, like their Australian namesake. Pocket mice, such as the rock and silky pocket mouse species in Texas, are smaller -- while they can jump, they normally move on all four legs.
Mice and Rats
Including more than two dozen species, the most prominent group of rodents in Texas are the mice and rats, in the family Muridae. This includes the Texas mouse, marsh rice rat, Norway rat and house mouse. Voles are also members of this family, and the Mexican, prairie and woodland vole all live in Texas. The common muskrat, somewhat resembling a beaver, is a larger member of this family. Muskrats live in most of the state in aquatic environments like ponds or streams.
Porcupines are rodents covered in barbed quills, native to west Texas. They like to live in rocky, forested areas where they can find a den in a cave. Beavers are rodents that live along the Rio Grande River, along the southern border of Texas. They build large dams in streams or ponds and sport webbed feet perfect for swimming and a trademark paddle-shaped tail. Nutria are found from central Texas to the east coast. They also look very similar to beavers, except with a long, rat-like tails. Like beavers, they are strong swimmers who build burrows on river banks.
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