lab worker examining rat's teeth

The Scary Truth About Rodents’ Teeth

Rodentia make up the largest group of mammals on Earth. With over 1,500 living rodent species (compared to 4,000 living mammals overall), these creatures can be found on every continent except Antarctica. Within this large “family,” rodents share a particular physical feature that’s both impressive and somewhat frightening: their teeth or, more specifically, their incisors that never stop growing.

Rodents Have Teeth That Just Won’t Quit

Rats, mice, squirrels, and other rodents are born with two pairs of incisors, one pair in the top jaw and one in the bottom. These “front teeth” grow continuously throughout the rodent’s life. For instance, a rat’s incisors can grow as much as 1 millimeter daily if unopposed. If a rodent’s teeth become too long, they’ll cause cheek, tongue, or palatal ulcers and can even prevent the rodent from eating.

So how do rodents avoid this ghastly fate? By gnawing incessantly on firm objects. Some rodents will also “brux,” a term for grinding their incisors together. These behaviors keep their teeth filed down to a manageable size.

Rodents’ Teeth Are Stronger Than Your Teeth

The Mohs scale is used to rate the hardness of minerals and other matter. To get an idea of how the ratings compare to each other, check out how the following things “score” on the Mohs scale:

  • Human fingernails: 2.5
  • Penny (copper): 3.5
  • Platinum: 3.5
  • Iron: 4
  • Steel: 4-4.5
  • Human teeth: 5
  • Mouse and rat teeth: 5.5
  • Diamond: 10

It’s also worth noting that a common rodent’s bite force far surpasses any human’s. Bite force can be measured in how many pounds per square inch (PSI) the bite applies. Back by the molars, a human’s bite force is 162 PSI.

Here’s how that stacks up to a couple typical neighborhood rodents:

  • Rats: 6,000 PSI
  • Squirrels: 7,000 PSI

Rodents Can (and Probably Will) Gnaw On Just About Anything

With teeth and a bite this strong and a constant need to gnaw, a rodent infestation can be more than unhygienic: it can become destructive. Homeowners are often shocked to discover that rats or mice have gnawed through thick cables, plastic bins, sheet metal, rubber, vinyl, and fiberglass. Squirrels can wreak quite a bit of havoc as well by peeling away your roof shingles and chewing through the roof decking.

At Pestex Inc, our Boston pest and wildlife control experts take pride in providing effective rodent control solutions and quality service. Call us at (617) 544-2566 or contact us online today to learn more about how we can help you!

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