What is Muridae?

The Muridae, or murids, are the biggest rodent and mammal family in the world, with over 700 species including many mice, rats, and gerbils found in Eurasia, Africa, and Australia. Muridae is derived from the Latin mus (genitive murids), which means "mouse." Murids are found almost everywhere on the planet, however many subfamilies have more limited distributions. Antarctica and numerous maritime islands are devoid of murids. Even though none of them is native to the Americas, a few species, such as the house mouse and black rat have been transported to other parts of the world. Murids may be found in a wide range of habitats, from tropical jungles to tundras. Although most murid species are terrestrial, there are several that are fossorial, arboreal, and semiaquatic. Murids occupy a wide range of niches, which helps to explain their relative abundance.


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Muridae (Murids)

Muridae (rat family) is the biggest extant rodent family, and indeed the biggest of all animal families, with over 1,383 species of "real" mice and rats.

Muridae is home to two-thirds of all rodent species and genera. Murids, or muroid rodents, are the collective name for members of this family. The 300 genera of muroid rodents are divided into 18 subfamilies, although only two subfamilies Sigmodontinae (New World rats and mice) and Murinae (European rats and mice) have more than 200 genera (and approximately 1,000 species) each (Old World rats and mice). 

There are roughly 250 more species in two more subfamilies (Arvicolinae and Gerbillinae), with the remaining 14 subfamilies housing various other genera, some of which have only one species. Not all experts believe in the number of subfamilies or if they should all be classified as Muridae. Some assemblages, such as blind mole rats and bamboo rats, are quite different and have been considered as different families in the past. Originally classified as a dormouse (Myoxidae), the Malabar spiny tree mouse was reclassified as a murid, comparable to blind tree mice.


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Many subfamilies, including hamsters, were once thought to be part of a distinct family from Muridae, although they are now most commonly regarded as muroid subfamilies. These subfamilies' inclusion underlines their closer evolutionary links than any other group of rodents, although such affinity might also be shown by identifying each as a distinct family and then grouping them within a wider category, the superfamily Muroidea. 

This would be OK if each group's common progenitor could be proven. Monophyletic groupings are known to exist (hamsters, voles, African pouched rats, gerbils, Old World rats and mice, African spiny mice, platacanthomyines, zokors, blind mole rats, and bamboo rats). Other groupings, on the other hand, are difficult to classify and may or may not be a jumble of unrelated genera and species (New World rats and mice, dendromurines, and Malagasy rats and mice). The affiliations of subfamilies with only one genus are also unknown (mouselike hamsters, the maned rat).


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Some specialists want to keep these issue groups as subfamilies under Muridae until a better clarification of their connections, while others continue to split them as families under the umbrella of Muroidea.

Because diagnosable groups of current species, such as mole rats and bamboo rats, lose their distinction when their lineages are traced back far enough in time, fossil data may corroborate the single-family structure. The live members of these 18 groups demonstrate an impressive range of variety in body structure, movement, and ecology, whether they are classified as the family Muridae of the superfamily Muroidea.


Diet and Dentition Muridae

Murids have a diverse range of dietary patterns, including herbivorous and omnivorous species as well as specialists who eat only earthworms, fungus, or aquatic insects. Plant materials and tiny invertebrates are consumed by most species, with seeds and other plant matter being stored for winter use. Murids have sciurognathous jaws (a rodent ancestral trait), as well as a diastema. Murids are missing their canines and premolars. Three molars are usually present (but one or two are occasionally seen), and the nature of the molars varies by genus and eating style. 


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Murids family (Mouse family)

Mice are members of the Rodentia order's Muridae rat family. Research animal vendors sell a variety of outbred stocks and inbred strains of the laboratory mouse (Mus domesticus). Different mouse strains have different coat colours and other traits. Commercially accessible mice come in a variety of species and genera. Many providers provide mice that are devoid of murine infectious illnesses and parasites. Healthy and sick mice have similar acquisition costs, but there are likely to be substantial changes in the experimental result and data reliability between the two groups.


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The Muridae rat family of mammals is the biggest (with over 1300 species) and has a wide range of adaptations to living in and around water. Water rats, on the other hand, are not found in the Asian tropics. The Neotropical web-footed marsh rats (Holochilus spp.) are unique in that they eat nearly entirely grass and plants on floodplains, stream banks, and marshes, except molluscs. In tropical America, fish-eating rats (Ichthyomys spp.) are common. Their hind feet are huge and somewhat webbed, and they have strong whiskers, tiny eyes and ears, and a bristly underside to their tail. They can swim well. 


Classification

The Muridae are classified into five subfamilies, around 150 genera, and about 834 species.

1. Deomyinae

The subfamily Deomyinae includes four mouse-like rodent genera that were previously classified in the subfamilies Murinae and Dendromurinae. They are frequently referred to as the Acomyinae, especially in references that before the finding that Deomys ferruginous, the link rat, is a member of a group. Deomyinae is the older term, hence it takes priority over Acomyinae. Although modest elements of the third upper molar have been postulated, deomyines share no morphological traits that may be utilised to distinguish them from other muroids. The only thing that binds this subfamily together is a set of genetic mutations.


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The use of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA, as well as DNA-DNA hybridization, has provided strong statistical support for these claims. Due to the absence of physical traits that support this group, the subfamily as it is now classified will likely expand. A molecular phylogenetic investigation of several of the taxa now classified as Murinae or Dendromurinae has never been performed. When they are, there may be some surprises in store. All of the genera are found in Africa, implying that the deomyines originated there. Acomys spp., or spiny mice, are also found throughout Asia.


2. Gerbillinae

Gerbils, jirds, and sand rats are all members of the Gerbillinae subfamily of the Muridae rodent family.

The subfamily, once known as desert rats, today contains roughly 110 African, Indian, and Asian rodent species, including sand rats and jirds, all of which are suited to dry environments. The majority of them are diurnal (although certain species, such as the popular home pet, display crepuscular activity), and virtually all are omnivorous. The word "gerbil" comes from a diminutive version of "jerboa," a separate species of rodents that share a similar biological niche. Gerbils are approximately 150-300 mm (6-12 in) long, including the tail, which accounts for nearly half of their overall length. The giant gerbil, Rhombomys Optimus, which is endemic to Turkmenistan, may reach a length of more than 400 mm (16 in). A typical adult gerbil weighs around 70 grammes (2.12 ounces). The Mongolian gerbil Meriones unguiculatus, often known as the clawed jird, is one species that has become a popular tiny home pet. It's also been employed in certain scientific studies. 


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3. Leimacomyinae

The Togo mouse (Leimacomys buettneri), commonly known as Büttner's African forest mouse or the groove-toothed forest mouse, is a rare muroid rodent that was discovered in 1890 in Bismarckburg, near Yegge, Togo. It belongs to a monotypic genus. A single, poor-quality dry skin, a fluid-preserved animal, and a skull and mandible are all that is known about this species. Different animals provided the skull and mandible. The item is kept in Humboldt University's Zoologisches Museum in Berlin, Germany. The head and body measure 118 mm (4.6 in) in length, with a tail of 37 mm (1.5 in). 

This tail is exceptionally small in comparison to the body length (37%) and is regarded as a key diagnostic trait. Above, the animal is dark to grey-brown, and below, it is pale grey-brown. Ears are hairy and tiny. Hairy feet are also a feature. The tail might be completely hairless or somewhat hairy. The incisors have a shallow groove on them. The zygomatic plate is massive, the snout is long and wide, and the interorbital breadth is broad). The Togo mouse is thought to be insectivorous based on its skull anatomy. The behaviours of this peculiar mouse are mostly unknown.


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4. Lophiomyinae (Maned Rat)

The maned rat, also known as the (African) crested rat (Lophiomys imhausi), is a nocturnal, long-haired, bushy-tailed East African rodent with a porcupine-like appearance.

The maned rat, the world's sole deadly rodent, uses plant poisons to ward off predators. The body of a maned rat can reach 14 inches (360 mm) in length, or 21 inches (530 mm) from head to tail. The coat is made up of long, silver guard hairs with black tips that are layered atop a dense, woolly grey and white undercoat, with short black fur on the face and limbs. From the top of the animal's head to just past the base of the tail, a mane of longer, coarser black-and-white banded hairs stretches.

A thick, white-bordered band of hairs surrounds a region of glandular skin in this mane.

Short black hair covers the forelimbs and rear limbs. The forefeet are big, and digit 1 does not have a claw, but digits 2–5 have a well-developed claw.


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The mane erects when the animal is scared or agitated, stripping portions and exposing the glandular region. The hairs in this region resemble normal hair at the tips, but they are otherwise spongy, fibrous, and absorbent, with a honeycomb structure.

The rat is commonly transmitted poison from the bark of the poison arrow tree, Acokanthera schimperi, on which it eats, on these hairs, forming a defensive mechanism that can sicken or even kill predators that try to bite it.

It is the only animal known to use and store poisons from other species in nature for self-defence, with no known negative consequences. In the wild, it eats mostly leaves, fruit, and other plant material, but in captivity, it has been known to consume meat, grains, root vegetables, and insects. It eats by sitting on its haunches and bringing food to its mouth with its forepaws.


Reproduction

Some murids are social, while others prefer to be alone. Females often have numerous litters every year. Breeding can take place all year in warm climates. Even though most genera have lifespans of less than two years, murids have a high reproductive capacity, and their populations tend to grow quickly until rapidly decreasing when food supplies are depleted. This occurs in a three- to four-year cycle most of the time.


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Characteristics

The murids are tiny mammals that range in size from 4.5 to 8 cm in length (without the tail) in the African pygmy mouse to 48 cm (19 in) in the southern giant slender-tailed cloud rat. They have thin bodies, scaled tails that are longer than the body, and pointed snouts with prominent whiskers, however, these characteristics vary greatly. Some murids have lengthened legs and feet to allow them to hop around, while others have broad feet and prehensile tails to help them climb, and yet others have neither adaptation. Murids have strong hearing and smelling abilities.

They may be found in a variety of environments, including forests, grasslands, and mountain ranges. Several animals, particularly gerbils, have evolved to desert environments and can survive for long periods with only a little amount of water. With the help of powerful jaw muscles and gnawing incisors that grow during life, they devour a broad variety of meals, depending on the species. Murids are prolific breeders, having huge litters many times a year. They usually give birth twenty to forty days after mating, however, this varies widely by species.


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Evolution

The evolution of murids, like that of many other tiny mammals, is poorly understood due to the shortage of fossils. They are thought to have developed from hamster-like creatures in tropical Asia during the early Miocene and have only generated species that can survive in colder regions since then. As a result of hitching a ride alongside human migrations throughout the current geological age, they have grown notably abundant globally.


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Conclusion

The Muridae, or murids, are the biggest rodent and mammal family in the world, with over 700 species. Muridae is derived from the Latin mus (genitive murids), which means "mouse." Murids are found almost everywhere on the planet, but Antarctica and many maritime islands are devoid of murids. Some species, such as the house mouse and black rat have been transported to other parts of the world. Murids may be found in a wide range of habitats, from tropical jungles to tundras. The 300 genera of muroid rodents are divided into 18 subfamilies, although only two have more than 200 genera each (Old World rats and mice). Some specialists want to keep these issue groups as subfamilies under Muridae until a better clarification of their connections, while others continue to split them as families under the umbrella of Muroidea. The live members of these 18 groups demonstrate an impressive range of variety in body structure, movement, and ecology.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Are Mice and Rats in the Same Genus?

Answer: Mice are classified as Mus in the genus Mus. Mice and rats are usually identified by their size. When a muroid rodent is discovered, its common name usually contains the terms mouse or rat, depending on how strong it is. The labels "rat" and "mouse" aren't taxonomically distinct.

2. What is the Difference Between Mice and Rats?

Answer: An adult mouse differs from a juvenile rat by having bigger ears and a longer tail in comparison to its body length. In comparison to a mouse, a juvenile rat's paws and skull are much bigger. Mice's bellies are generally a lighter shade of grey or brown.

3. What is the Largest Mouse in the World?

Answer: Phyllotis xanthopygus.

The yellow-rumped leaf-eared mouse (Phyllotis xanthopygus) has the world's biggest elevation range of any animal, at more than 20,000 feet.