Desert Rodents

Jerboa, hopping mice and kangaroo rats all adapt similarly to desert environments. All three have highly developed hind legs, live in deep burrows and rarely drink water. Some desert rodents receive all of their moisture from food and conserve water through a special metabolic process.

Jerboas are nocturnal rodents that are found in sandy and stony deserts. During the heat of the day, they shelter in burrows, which can be temporary or permanent. Permanent burrows are sealed and camouflaged and feature multiple entrances. These structures serve as nests and contain hibernation areas, which are used in the hottest months.

Hopping mice are also known as Australian kangaroo rats. These rodents are primarily brown or fawn in color and fade to pale gray or white underneath. Hopping mice have extremely long tails. Many of these species are extinct or endangered.

Kangaroo rats are found in arid and semi-arid areas. They feed on seeds, leaves, stems, buds, fruits and insects. Kangaroo rats follow an ant-like system of storing excess food in caches and burrows. Unlike jerboas and hopping mice, kangaroo rats have large cheek pockets for food storage. Highly developed muscles return these pockets to their normal size after they are emptied.