Desert Kangaroo Rat

Desert Kangaroo Rats are rodents with pale brown to gray fur on their upper body with white fur covering their undersides. They have long tails that are almost as long as their entire bodies. They hop almost exclusively on their large hind feet similar to a kangaroo. Their oversized, springy back legs make it possible for them to bound 9 feet in one jump! They can survive without drinking any water. Instead, they get water from the moisture in their diet.
SCIENTIFIC NAME
Dipodomys deserti
CLASSIFICATION
Mammal
LIFE SPAN
5-8 Years
SIZE
12.5-13.5 ” | 0.2-0.3 lbs
STATE CONSERVATION STATUS
  • State Protected
FEDERAL CONSERVATION STATUS
Least Concern
GAME STATUS
Non-Game
GAME TYPE
None
  1. Washoe
  2. Humboldt
  3. Pershing
  4. Churchill
  5. Mineral
  6. Lyon
  7. Douglas
  8. Carson City
  9. Storey
  1. Elko
  2. Lander
  3. Eureka
  4. White Pine
  1. Esmeralda
  2. Nye
  3. Lincoln
  4. Clark

Habitat & Range

The Desert Kangaroo Rat lives in the desert flatlands, creosote scattered flats, and sandy soils in desert washes. They burrow into the loose soil to escape the harsh heat and dangerous desert environment.

  • Cold desert shrubland and sagebrush
  • Mojave desert
  • Sand Dunes

Threats

  • Habitat Degradation
  • Predation
  • Urban Development

Natural History

Desert Kangaroo Rats will use their strong and large back feet to travel out to forage for seeds. Not much is known on whether they cache their food or not, but they do possess the external cheek pouches that other subspecies of Kangaroo Rats have. Their favorite foods are dried leaves from sage, creosote seeds, and other seeds. They are able to survive long periods without a water source even with their preference for dried plant material. These rodents are mostly nocturnal and live their lives in underground burrows. They have been observed out of their burrows in the daylight. Their burrows only have one occupant except when a female has a litter. Even though Desert Kangaroo Rats are particularly aggressive, they halt their aggression for mating. Reproductive activity typically lasts from January through July. Litters consist of one to six young, called “pups,” and they have one or two litters per year. Pups are born completely helpless with pink, translucent skin and are ready to be weaned from their mother in only about 21 days! Shortly after birth, the mother will kick sand on its newborn pups, probably to dry them off.

Fun Facts

When these rodents encounter an unknown object, they will kick sand on it to help determine if it is a threat to them. Kangaroo Rats are also excellent swimmers and their tails can be over seven inches long!