There are more than 2,050 living species of mammals characterized by upper and lower pairs of ever-growing rootless incisor teeth. Rodents are the largest group of mammals, constituting almost half the class Mammalia’s approximately 4,660 species. They are indigenous to every land area except Antarctica, New Zealand, and a few Arctic and other oceanic islands, although some species have been introduced even to those places through their association with humans. This huge order of animals encompasses 27 separate families, including not only the “true” rats and mice but also such diverse groups as porcupines, beavers, squirrels, marmots, pocket gophers, and chinchillas.
All rodents possess constantly growing rootless incisors that have a hard enamel layer on the front of each tooth and softer dentine behind. The differential wear from gnawing creates perpetually sharp chisel edges. Rodents’ absence of other incisors and canine teeth results in a gap, or diastema, between incisors and cheek teeth, which number from 22 (5 on each side of the upper and lower jaws) to 4, may be rooted or rootless and ever-growing, and may be low- or high-crowned. The nature of the jaw articulation ensures that incisors do not meet when food is chewed and that upper and lower cheek teeth (premolars and molars) do not make contact while the animal gnaws.
Some Information Credited to Britannica.com