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Kangaroo Rat (Genus Dipodomys)

Natural History

Kangaroo Rats are small rodents found only in the more arid regions of the western and southwestern. They are 9 - 14 inches in length (over half of which is comprised of their tail) with pale tan fur on the tops of their bodies and light fur underneath. Their most distinguishing feature is their long hind legs which they use to hop, like little kangaroos, using their long tails for balance. They live in sandy to rocky soils with little vegetation in the desert scrub of the Mojave and Sonoran deserts of California and Arizona, and western through southern Nevada.

Kangaroo Rats have extremely efficient kidneys which allow them to get all of their water from the food they eat.

Kangaroo Rats live in large dens which they dig themselves at the base of bushes, like creosote bush , or in the banks of wind drifted sand. Their burrows are up to 4 1/2 feet (1.5 m) deep, and have a number of entrances and many passages which connect to food storage rooms and a nest chamber. The nest is made out of grass and other plants. It spends most of its day underground sleeping, and comes out to feed at night when it is cooler. They mostly eat seeds, leaves, stems and insects which they store in their large cheek pouches that open on either side of the mouth. They typically have 2 - 3 litters a year with 1 - 7 babies in each (usually 2). Predators include coyotes, foxes, badgers, snakes, owls.

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