Facts about jerboas (rodents)

    egyptian jerboa
  • A jerboa is an animal that looks like a tiny kangaroo.
  • Jerboas are fawn-colored (light, yellowish brown) and have pointed ears, buttonlike eyes, and long whiskers. Their front legs are short, their hind legs are long and powerful. Jerboas usually walk on their hind legs.
  • The tail of a jerboa is used to balance the creature when it is hopping and "as a prop when the jerboa is sitting upright"
  • When frightened jerboas speed away in bounding leaps, like kangaroos.
  • Jerboas are rodents. They belong to the same animal order as mice, rats, and squirrels.
  • Jerboas live in deserts and dry areas in Africa, Asia, and eastern Europe.
  • Jerboas live in groups in burrows (tunnels).
  • They come out at night to look for food. They eat plants, seeds, and insects.
  • Unlike gerbils, jerboas are not known to store food.
  • In cold climates, Jerboas hibernate (sleep through the winter).
  • Scientists have identified 25 species (kinds) of Jerboas. The Egyptian jerboa is the best known species. Its body is from 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) long, and its tail is even longer.
  • Egyptian Jerboas make good pets.
  • Jerboas and kangaroo rats, which live in the United States, are so similar that it is hard to tell the two ani­mals apart. They are an example of what biologists call convergent evolution. Study of the skulls and teeth of the two animals show that they had quite different ancestors. But, in the dry regions in which they live, similar features developed in both animals.
  • The typical lifespan of a jerboa is 2 to 3 years.