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Christmas Gift Guide

This isn't even as big as they come

Gambian pouched rat

Capybara

Little big rodents

Giant flying squirrels

As a matter of fact, they do grow on trees...

Cape porcupine

They'll eat your plants

Maned rats

Larger than what you've got at home

Nutria

Nutria

Hoary marmot

Variable sizes

North American beaver

Heavier than a human child

When it comes to Earth's largest rodents, the Gambian pouched rat, which can grow up to 3 feet long, is probably the cutest this gallery has to offer. After all, it can be trained to walk around in a harness. It can even learn to sniff out land mines or signs of tuberculosis.

But, when it comes to sheer size, this isn't as large as large rodents get on this planet. Not even close...

Caption by / Photo by Gooutside/Public Domain

But first, a bit more about the Gambian pouched rat, which is, for the record, among the largest rodents out there.

It's actually not a rat, but more like a gigantic hamster, with cheek pouches big enough to hoard several pounds of food at a time.

Caption by / Photo by George Nickels/NurPhoto/Corbis

Behold, the largest rodent in the world: the capybara, a South American denizen that can grow to a size of nearly 4.5 feet long. (As far as weight, they can tip the scales at more than 145 pounds.)

Here, a capybara walks with a squirrel monkey on its head at Tobu Zoo in Saitama, Japan. Tobu Zoo is the only zoo in Japan that raises capybaras and squirrel monkeys in the same cage, which is called "capybara taxi" with good reason.

Caption by / Photo by Xinhua Press/Corbis

At birth, capybaras already weigh 2 to 3 pounds.

Caption by / Photo by Wolfgang Kaehler/Corbis

Didn't know flying squirrels came in Boeing size, did you? Well, meet the red and white giant flying squirrel, also known as the Chinese flying squirrel, the largest flying squirrel on Earth.

Caption by / Photo by Maciej Kulczynski/epa/Corbis

...and they can grow to more than 3 feet long, including their tails.

Caption by / Photo by Thomas Marent/MINDEN PICTURES/Corbis

You're looking at the largest rodent in southern Africa...and the world's largest porcupine. Cape porcupines can weigh more than 60 pounds.

Caption by / Photo by TUNS/Corbis/J & C Sohns

They're a common sight in southern Africa. A favorite delicacy: bulbs, including types that are poisonous to other animals.

Caption by / Photo by FLPA/Colin Marshall

These African rats might look like porcupines (more on those later) but they aren't. They're rats. The wild rats you might see in big-city sewers might grow to an average of 20 inches long (including tail), but maned rats...

Caption by / Photo by Kevin Deacon/Wikipedia

...can grow even bigger than that. Their bushy coats, which make them look even bigger, can make themselves known on baby maned rats as young as 20 days.

Caption by / Photo by Margaret F. Kinnaird/dpa/Corbis

They look at bit like beavers with little tails, or large rats, but in reality, nutria, or coypu, are neither. They're semiaquatic rodents that can grow to about 2 feet long.

Caption by / Photo by Marianne Brouwer/Nature in Stock/Corbis

This nutria, nibbling on vegetables in a Swiss zoo, shows off its back feet, which, like many aquatic rodents', are webbed.

Caption by / Photo by EPA/Corbis

When it comes to North American ground squirrels, their largest cousin is...this, the hoary marmot, also known as the whistle pig. They've been known to grow up to 30 pounds (if they're really huge), and are similar in size to the alpine marmot, which sometimes also claims the title of largest ground squirrel.

Here's one on Mount Edith Cavell, in Jasper National Park, Canada.

Caption by / Photo by Ron Erwin/All Canada Photos/Corbis

If you run into a runty-looking hoary marmot weighing in at only, say, 8 pounds, that's also normal; their weights ebb and flow throughout the year.

Caption by / Photo by Sumio Harada/Minden Pictures/Corbis

If you were wondering about the largest rodent in North America, here it is. This beaver typically weighs about 44 pounds, though its kind can grow much larger.

Caption by / Photo by Bryan Smith/ZUMAPRESS.com/Corbis

One North American beaver was catalogued at weighing 110 pounds. The breed has been a source of meat to several populations over the centuries...but nowadays, the BeaverTails you get in Canada are more like donuts.

Caption by / Photo by Konrad Wothe / Minden Pictures
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