An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Rodents Recycling

3-13-15  gray squirrel 001Bones, antlers, skulls, turtle shells – all are recycled relatively quickly by rodents seeking a source of minerals, particularly calcium and phosphorus. All rodents possess four incisors, two in the front of the upper jaw and two opposite these, on the bottom jaw. These incisors, unlike other teeth, never stop growing. By gnawing on hard objects such as bones, rodents keep their incisors paired down. If an incisor is broken or lost, the opposing incisor will continue growing in a circle, having nothing to grind against, causing the rodent to die of starvation or from having its brain pierced (through the roof of the rodent’s mouth) by the ever-growing incisor. In this photograph, a gray squirrel is obtaining minerals and sharpening its incisors on a moose skull that a human wedged into the crotch of a tree.

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7 responses

  1. Kathie Fiveash

    I always love to find an antler partially gnawed away with the tiny toothmarks of mice all over it. My grandmother always called the intricate tunnels of bark beetles on driftwood “handwriting from God.” I’ll add the toothmarks of mice to that category, even though I am not a religious person.

    March 18, 2015 at 9:55 am

  2. I’m right there with you, Kathie.

    March 18, 2015 at 10:37 am

  3. Rita Pitkin

    Wow. I feel lucky to have a dentist!

    March 18, 2015 at 12:59 pm

  4. We have an old cattle skull that we have on a stump and all winter we kept finding it on the ground. Now I know who the culprit is!

    March 19, 2015 at 8:04 pm

  5. Karen

    How do you think that skull ended up in the tree?

    March 20, 2015 at 7:47 am

    • Someone I know (a hunter) put it there.

      March 20, 2015 at 9:27 am

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