What is the largest rodent in the USA

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Have you ever wondered, “What is the largest rodent in the world?” or, more specifically, “What is the largest rodent in the USA?”

Well, you’re about to find out.

This guide lists ten of the biggest rodents in the country, ranked from smallest to largest, and tells you a bit about each one.

10. Vole

Voles are often known as field mice or meadow mice. However, they’re not mice (although they are related). They have shorter tails, smaller ears, and blunt noses.

Field vole standing near leaf

Voles are small, around 4 to 8 inches long, and weigh just a few ounces. That sounds pretty tiny, but for reference, a house mouse is about 2.5 to 4 inches long, so they’re still bigger than the average rodent. 

What voles lack in size, they make up for in speed. They’re speedy and hard to catch. They also cause a lot of damage, digging their own burrows across your yard, feasting on plants and vegetables in your garden, and stripping your trees of bark (known as girdling).

Voles reside in various climates, including prairies, meadows, mountains, and frigid tundras. 

9. Mole

Moles are long-clawed, burrowing rodents that typically range from 5 to 8 inches long and weigh between 2.5 to 4.5 ounces. They are a bit larger than voles but look quite different.

Mole making a mole hill

In addition to their long claws, moles are characterized by their hairless, pointy snouts, tiny eyes, and invisible ears. They live in grassy areas and woodlands where they can easily dig holes and burrows. 

Like voles, moles can cause a lot of damage to your property. They use tunnels to travel, but they also dig chambers at the ends of the tunnels for bedrooms and birthing areas. 

Moles often dig in gardens, but they’re not looking for fruit and vegetable roots. They’re actually searching for earthworms — moles eat close to their body weight in earthworms each day!

8. California Mouse

The biggest mouse in the world can’t hold a candle to some of the other large rodents in the United States or across the globe. However, the California mouse, which is one of the largest mice in the USA, is still pretty substantial. 

California mouse looking for food amongst leaves

The California mouse is typically found in central and southern California, as well as northwestern Mexico. This type of mouse ranges from 8.6 to 11.2 inches long and weighs a mere 1.5 ounces. 

California mice are unique because they pair bond instead of having multiple partners. They’re also semiarboreal, meaning they sometimes reside in trees. They also build nests in the ground under fallen logs and other debris.

7. Norway Rat

Similar to the biggest mouse in the world, the biggest rat in the world is still smaller than many other rodents. However, a giant rat — such as the Norway rat — is certainly nothing to scoff at.

Norway rat on a corn plant

The Norway rat or brown rat is about 15 to 20 inches long and weighs around 9 to 12 ounces. Enormous Norway rats reportedly weigh close to two pounds, but these rats are usually kept as pets.

Norway rats are nocturnal animals with poor eyesight and color blindness. They rely on hearing and their senses of smell, taste, and touch to get around and find food. Because Norway rats are color blind, some exterminators use bait in particular colors to lure and trap them. 

Norway rats prefer building nests at ground level or in underground burrows.

6. Gopher

Gophers typically range from 5 to 12 inches long. They’re known for their sharp teeth and, like many of the other rodents on this list, their penchant for burrowing.

Gopher standing up looking ahead

Gophers live underground and build extensive burrowing systems, covering anywhere from 200 to 2,000 square feet. These herbivorous rodents survive on plants, shrubs, and trees. They often feast on roots they come across as they dig.

Gophers are intriguing rodents because they actually benefit the environment. The waste left behind in the burrows naturally fertilizes the earth.

However, many people still don’t want gophers on their property because they damage gardens and crops.

Gophers work quickly, too — one gopher can easily dig several tunnels in one day — so it’s easy for them to get out of hand if they’re left on your property long-term. 

5. Viking Rat

It’s time to talk about another big rat that resides in the USA and parts of Europe: The Viking Rat. 

Viking rats can reach double the size of regular rats. For example, a 15-inch Viking rat was discovered in Sweden, and a 24-inch one set up shop in a Dublin flat.

Viking rats are menaces not just because of their substantial size but because of their immunity to most poisons. They’re mutated over the years to develop a resistance to various toxins, making them difficult to remove. 

4. Hoary Marmot

The hoary marmot most commonly resides in the northwestern United States, including Idaho, Washington, and Alaska.

Hoary Marmot Mother & Baby

The hoary marmot is a member of the squirrel family and resembles a groundhog or woodchuck. They weigh around 10 pounds and typically grow to about 30 inches long. Some also reportedly grow to the size of house cats. 

Hoary marmots hibernate during the summer alone in burrows. During warmer months, they leave their holes in the early morning and late afternoon.

The hoary marmot has been nicknamed a “whistle pig.” They’re known for their unique, whistle-like call.

3. North American Porcupine

Porcupines are easily some of the largest rodents in the United States. The North American porcupine weighs around 20 pounds and is about 24 to 36 inches long. 

North american porcupine foraging

North American porcupines are famous for their pointy quills. Each quill is hollow and about 2 to 3 inches long. On average, porcupines have about 30,000 quills all over their body. These quills are lightly attached and come off of the porcupine’s skin quickly if they encounter a predator. 

A porcupine’s quills take a long time to work their way out of the skin. They move at a rate of about 1 millimeter per hour.

The North American porcupine is typically found in the northeastern and western parts of the United States, as well as Canada and Northern Mexico. They spend most of their time on the ground but are also good tree climbers and skilled swimmers.

2. Nutria

Nutria are large rodents that range from 17 to 25 inches long (with an additional 10 to 16 inches from their tails) and weigh between 15 and 22 pounds. 

nutria in the grass

Nutria resemble beavers and rats. They’re characterized by their two large, orange front teeth and long, rounded tails.

These water-loving rodents prefer fresh water and live in burrows close to rivers, lakes, canals, and wetlands. They’re most commonly found in the southern United States.

Fur traders brought Nutria here in the 1800s so they could easily be harvested for their thick, soft fur. When the fur market collapsed, nutria farmers released the creatures into the wild, and they’ve lived in the U.S. ever since.

1. North American Beaver

The North American Beaver is the largest rodent native to the United States.

north american beaver on its dam

The average North American beaver extends from 29 to 35 inches long (their tales add another 12 inches) and can weigh up to 110 pounds. Beavers are semi-aquatic rodents with large claws and distinctive flat tails. 

North American beavers live on tree bark, leaves, roots, and wetland plants. They move slowly on land but quickly in the water (around 4.3 miles per hour when alarmed).

Some people consider beavers to be nuisances because they cut down trees to build dams. However, they actually benefit the environment and create diverse habitats that encourage the growth of plants that provide food and shelter for other animals.

Honorable Mention: The Capybara

The capybara holds the title of the largest rodent in the world and, technically, the United States. They’re not native to the USA, but small populations reside in southern Florida.

These giant rodents are semiaquatic and typically live in wetland climates. They’re known for their short brown fur, blunt snouts, small ears, and short legs and tails.

Capybaras are shy rodents that feed in the mornings and evenings, resting during the day along wetland banks. They are vegetarians and can be seen as pests, particularly by people who grow melons, squash, or grains that capybaras like to steal. 

Want to Keep Rodents of All Sizes Out of Your House?

Some people are curious about the largest rodents in the USA. Others don’t care about the size of various rodents; they just want to make sure they stay out of their houses!

We’re here for you at Natran Green Pest Control if you fall in the latter group. Our team is made of licensed and certified technicians, and we only use green products, so you never have to worry about exposure to harsh chemicals.
Contact us today to learn more about our pest control services and find out what we can do for you. Remember, if you call us by 2 pm, we can help you out the same day!

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