Are Deer Rodents? (No, But They’re Related!)

Deer are not rodents despite the two falling under the same scientific class Mammalia.

Rodents are characterized by having a single pair of incisors on each jaw which are known to grow throughout their life as they wear. They don’t have canines and have very few molars. 

Rodents are also smaller in size with the largest weighing about 1.5 kg. They are also omnivorous and have a simple digestive tract. 

Deer on the other hand are herbivores and feed exclusively on plant products. They have chambered stomachs with various bacteria to aid in the digestion of these plant products.

Are Deer Rodents

What are Rodents?

Rodents are mammals that fall under the taxonomic order Rodentia

Various animals are found in this order. They include mice, beavers, rats, squirrels and many more. Research shows that the taxonomic order Rodentia is the largest group of mammals.

Rodents are found everywhere in the world including at the poles. They have adapted to survive almost any environment they are placed in.

Animals in this order have various characteristics. They have a very unique dental formula which includes a single pair of incisors on each jaw which they use to gnaw on food by moving their bottom jaw forwards and backwards. 

They also have no canines and very few molars to help chew their food. Their teeth especially their incisors grow throughout their life because they are constantly being worn out.

When it comes to feeding, rodents are omnivorous animals. They can feed on almost anything which is a big factor to their survival. Rats found in houses have even been known to gnaw on plastic. This is however not healthy for the animal as they cannot digest such materials.

Rodents are also generally small animals. The largest species of rodents is the beaver which way about 1.5 kg. when it comes to their life span, rats can live from between 1.5-3 years depending on various factors like availability of food and predation.

Why Are Deer Not Rodents? (Deer vs Rodents)

 Deer are mammals that fall under the taxonomic order” Artiodactyla” and the family” Cervidae”.

Just like rodents, deer are also mammals. They are larger than rodents with the largest species of deer, moose, weighing in at over 750kg. Deer are characterized by their long powerful legs and long ears. They also have small tails and some species are known to grow large antlers. 

When it comes to their dental formula deer have 32 teeth. That is: 6 incisors located on the lower jaw, two canines also located on the lower jaw, 12 premolars and 12 molars.

Since they are ruminants they are adapted to feeding on vegetation. They don’t have upper incisors and instead develop a tough dental pad that they use in coordination to their lower incisors to grip vegetation.

Deer are herbivores hence have a complex digestive system. Their digestive tract constitutes of four chambered stomach that participate in the digestion of food.

Deer have symbiotic bacteria present in their digestive tract. These bacteria assist in the breaking down of cellulose.

Ruminants are also known to regurgitate food. The regurgitated food is known as cud. They do this to break down the cud further to soften and expose it well for digestion. The cud then travels down the four stomach chambers where it is digested and absorbed into their bodies.

Deer can also be classified as browsers. Browsers feed on high growing plants. These are herbivores that feed on leaves, soft shoots, foliage and shrubs. They generally do not eat grass.


Deer and rodents are related because they are both mammals, but they belong to two completely separate families of animals.

Deer and rodents belong to different taxonomic families. They also differ in terms of physical characteristics for example size and general appearance.

They also have very different internal structures a good example being their digestive systems. Deer have a more complex digestive tract consisting of four stomachs.

Both groups of animals play a very important role in nature. The removal of one of them will most likely collapse the whole eco system. It is important to take care of both species to ensure the continuity of various life on earth.

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