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A simple morphological predictor of bite force in rodents


  • Editor: Andrew C. Kitchener

Patricia W. Freeman, School of Natural Resources and University of Nebraska State Museum, 428 Hardin Hall, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68583-0974, USA. Email:


Bite force was quantified for 13 species of North American rodents using a piezo-resistive sensor. Most of the species measured (11) formed a tight relationship between body mass and bite force (log 10(bite force)=0.43(log 10(body mass))+0.416; R2>0.98). This high correlation exists despite the ecological (omnivores, grazers and more carnivorous) and taxonomic (Cricetidae, Heteromyidae, Sciuridae and Zapodidae) diversity of species. Two additional species, Geomys bursarius (Geomyidae) and a Sciurus niger (Sciuridae), bit much harder for their size. We found a simple index of strength based on two measurements of the incisor at the level of the alveolus (Zi=((anterior-posterior length)2× (medial-lateral width))/6) that is highly predictive of bite force in these rodents (R2>0.96). Zi may be useful for prediction of bite force (log10 (Bite Force)=0.566log10 (Zi)+1.432) when direct measurements are not available.