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Order Lagomorpha

This large order contains some popular and yet unusual mammals the rabbits, hares, and pikas. These mammals can be found on every continent except Antarctica, and are also absent from southern South America and most islands. They are not native to Australia or New Zealand, but were introduced there by settlers. Lagomorphs resemble large rodents with larger ears, and indeed were classified in the order Rodentia until 1912, when the differences between rodents and lagomorphs were deemed too great and deserved a new order. Lagomorphs have two pairs of incisors on the top jaw, one pair long and rodent-like and the other pair small and peg like. Rodents lack this second pair of incisors. These incisors continually grow, a feature also found in rodents, and are kept short by gnawing. Unlike rodents, lagomorph incisors are surrounded by a layer of enamel; rodent incisors have enamel on one face only.

Lagomorphs have stout, furry bodies. The hindefeet are generally long, and the hindelegs strong and positioned for leaping. The ears are usually long. An unusual characteristic is the location of the testes in males they are located in front of the penis rather than behind. This feature is also found in marsupials, and indeed the lagomorphs have been thought to be close relatives of marsupials, as well as rodents, primates, and practically every other mammal order!

Lagomorphs are purely herbivorous in nature. They are terrestrial and can be found from deserts to tropical forests to tundra regions. There are 80 species in 2 families:

Ochotonidae (pikas) 26 spp
Leporidae (rabbits, hares) 54 spp