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Kids' Inquiry of Diverse Species

Local animals in this group:

Old World mice and rats, gerbils, whistling rats, and relatives


The family that includes Old World mice, rats, gerbils, whistling rats, and many others , is the most diverse family of mammals in the world. With over 730 species this family makes up about 18% of all living mammals! Members of this family are native to Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia, and some oceanic islands. Some species have been introduced by humans throughout the world, including house mice and urban rats. Most members of this family look more or less mouse-like or rat-like but they live in all kinds of habitats, eat many kinds of things, and have many kinds of social systems. They are not only the most diverse (in terms of numbers of species) mammal family in the world, they are also exceptionally diverse in terms of how they make a living.


bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


animals that generate their own body heat through metabolic processes.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


uses touch to communicate

University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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. "Muridae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 23, 2014 at

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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