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Jerboa


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The Jerboa is a small, long-tailed rodent that jumps long distances using its long hind legs. This tiny mammal looks a bit like a tiny kangaroo. This mouse-sized animal can jump as far as 10 feet (3 m) in a single leap. It leaps to escape predators.

There are about 25 species of jerboas. They live in deserts and other dry areas of Africa and Asia. Jerboas escape the daytime heat by burrowing underground and resting during the day; they are most active at night (they are nocturnal).

Hibernation and Estivation: Some jerboas hibernate over cold winters, burrowing in a den and going into a very deep, sleep-like state. Other jerboas escape the searing summer heat in a similar way, estivating (going into a deep, sleep-like state during the hottest months).

Anatomy: Jerboas have tan fur. The hind legs are very long, and the front legs are short. The long tail is used for balance and to hold the animal in a sitting position. The eyes and ears are large. Jerboas range from 2 to 6 inches (5-15 cm) long plus a 3 to 10 inch (8-25 cm) long tail. The smallest rodent is the pygmy jerboa, whose body is just under two inches (47 mm) long.

Diet and Water: Jerboas are omnivores (they eat both plants and animals); they eat plants, seeds, and insects (like beetles). Water is obtained from the food they eat - they do not need to drink water.

Reproduction: Females give birth to 2 to 6 young in each litter; females have 2 to 3 litters each year.

Classification: Kingdom Animalia (animals), class Mammalia (mammals), order Rodentia (rodents), family Dipodidae (jerboas).

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