Series: Animal Science, Issues and Research
Burrow Pattern in Rodents is a well-thought-out and organized collection of research. This particular field of study needs patience and acute interest. Scholars in this field throughout the globe have tried to focus on the morphology, ecology, physiology, behaviour and biodiversity of rodents. Studying the rodents of India or outside India is very difficult and requires a multidisciplinary approach. Rodents are defined as gnawing mammals of an order that includes rats, mice, squirrel, hamsters, porcupines, and their relatives, distinguished by strong, constantly growing incisors and no canine teeth.
Rodents are the largest group of mammals, constituting almost half the class Mammalia’s approximately 4,660 species. They are indigenous to every land area except Antarctica, New Zealand, and a few Arctic and other oceanic islands, although some species have been introduced to those places through their association with humans. The impact of these species upon human populations ranges from inconvenient to deadly.
Burrowing (fossorial) mammals (especially rodents) construct or visit existing burrow systems regularly or temporarily for shelter but search for their food mainly above ground. The shelter function of the underground ecotope has two components: protection from predators and protection from environmental fluctuation or extremes predominating above the ground. Protection is particularly important in periods of enhanced vulnerability: during resting and sleeping, hibernation, aestivation, or breeding. Burrow inhabitants are deprived of most sensory cues available above ground, and face low food supply, high energetic costs of digging and some stressful micro-environmental conditions as high humidity, low gas ventilation, hypoxic and hypercapnic conditions.
A number of books on the topic of rodents have been published, such as The Mouse in Science, Biomethodology of the Rat, Biomethodology of the Guineapig, Hamsters in Research Institutions, and Infectious Diseases of Mice and Rats. However, these books are mainly focused on laboratory animals. This work, on the other hand, focuses on rodents in natural conditions, which is a fascinating aspect of rodent biology.
Agriculture, being biological in nature, is vulnerable to several external factors. Agricultural fields serve as a highly productive rodent habitat and crops such as sugarcane, rice, wheat, groundnut and fodder serve as an ideal habitat for rodent pests. Similarly, threshing yards located near crop fields also act as an excellent source of food and shelter for rodents.
Burrow systems vary greatly among rodent species and even within a species, depending on soil type, compaction, and depth; water table levels; aspect and slope; vegetation type and density; latitude, etc. In the Indian scenario, there is considerable variation in various types of burrow patterns due to the different types of soil, food structure and climatic situations. The authors have also tried to accumulate information on burrow systems in other developing and developed countries. So, this work will help the reader to understand species-specific burrow structures and their physiological conditions. The discussion on this particular topic will help the reader understand the life of various types of rodents not only in India but in other developing and developed countries also.