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Exotic Mammals > Lesser Jerboas

Lesser Jerboas (EM7)

EM7 Lesser Jerboas

Jerboas look somewhat like kangaroos due to having many similarities such as long hind legs, very short forelegs, and long tails. Jerboas move around their environment the same way a kangaroo does, which is by hopping. Like other bipedal animals, their foramen magnum, the hole at the base of the skull, is forward-shifted which enhances two legged locomotion. The tail of a jerboa can be longer than its head and body and it is common to see a white cluster of hair at the end of the tail. 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". The fur of a jerboa is fine and is usually the color of sand, this color in most cases matches the environment the jerboa lives in  Some species of the jerboa family have long ears like a rabbit and others have ears that are short like those of a mouse.


Jerboas are nocturnal. During the heat of the day they shelter in burrows. At night they leave the burrows due to the cooler temperature of their environment. The entrances to their burrow are found near plant life especially along field borders, but during the rainy season their tunnels are in mounds or hills. Building tunnels in these places reduces the risk of flooding. In the summer, jerboas that are occupying a hole plug the entrance to keep out hot air and, as some researchers speculate, predators. In most cases burrows have an emergency exit that ends just below the surface or opens at the surface, but is not strongly obstructed. This allows the jerboa to quickly escape predators. According to the animal diversity web: "Related jerboas often create four different types of burrows. A temporary, summer day burrow is used for cover while hunting during the daylight. They will have a second, temporary burrow used for hunting at night. They will also have two permanent burrows one for summer and one for winter. The permanent summer burrow is actively used throughout the summer and the young are raised there. Jerboas hibernate during the winter and use the permanent winter burrow for this. Temporary burrows are shorter in length than permanent burrows."Jerboas are known to be solitary creatures. Once they reach adulthood, jerboas usually have their own burrow and search for food on their own, not in groups. However, occasional "loose colonies" may be formed, whereby "some species of jerboa dig communal burrows which offer extra warmth when it is cold outside".


Most jerboas are known to eat plants. Some species will eat beetles and other insects they come across, but they can not eat hard seeds. Unlike gerbils, jerboas are not known to store food.