Eight horrifyingly huge rodents still on Earth

Think the biggest, scariest rodents are all extinct? Tell that to the hoary marmot.

Leslie Gornstein
1 of 16 Gooutside/Public Domain

This isn't even as big as they come

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...

2 of 16 George Nickels/NurPhoto/Corbis

Gambian pouched rat

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.

3 of 16 Xinhua Press/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.

4 of 16 Wolfgang Kaehler/Corbis

Little big rodents

At birth, capybaras already weigh 2 to 3 pounds.

5 of 16 Maciej Kulczynski/epa/Corbis

Giant flying squirrels

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.

6 of 16 Thomas Marent/MINDEN PICTURES/Corbis

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

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

7 of 16 TUNS/Corbis/J & C Sohns

Cape porcupine

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

8 of 16 FLPA/Colin Marshall

They'll eat your plants

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

9 of 16 Kevin Deacon/Wikipedia

Maned rats

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...

10 of 16 Margaret F. Kinnaird/dpa/Corbis

Larger than what you've got at home

...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.

11 of 16 Marianne Brouwer/Nature in Stock/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.

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

13 of 16 Ron Erwin/All Canada Photos/Corbis

Hoary marmot

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.

14 of 16 Sumio Harada/Minden Pictures/Corbis

Variable sizes

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.

15 of 16 Bryan Smith/ZUMAPRESS.com/Corbis

North American beaver

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.

16 of 16 Konrad Wothe / Minden Pictures

Heavier than a human child

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.

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