Kangaroo Rat

The Facts

  • Genus/Species: Dipodomys/ There are many species.
  • Conservation Status: Many species are endangered.
  • Location: North America


Kangaroo Rat
Kangaroo Rat

The Scoop

Unique Desert Dweller

Kangaroo rats tend to live in deserts and arid, open areas. They only go out at night when the temperatures are cooler. They spend their days in their burrows where the air is moist and humid. Kangaroo rats are rather cute and have plump, dumpy little bodies with large hind legs, large, eyes and small rounded ears. The tail is always longer than the head and body, and is covered with fur. The end is tufted with longer hairs. The long tail undoubtedly acts as a balance when the animal is making long hops. Kangaroo rats are pale in color with light pastel shades of tan, cream and off-white. These animals have an extremely good sense of hearing which allows them to detect the approach of their enemies like quiet owls and snakes.

Kangaroo rats vary in size according to their species. They can be between 9 and 14 inches in length. They weigh only about 4.5 ounces, which is about the weight of a granola bar. Kangaroo rats feed mostly on grass seeds, but will also eat leaves, stems and sometimes fruit if available. They have pouches on the sides of their mouths that can be used for carrying food kangaroo rats are unique in the animal world because nature has provided them with the ability to survive with very little water. In the deserts kangaroo rats can live with no water at all for they have the ability to convert the dry seeds they eat into water. The kangaroo rat's main defense against its enemies is its agility in leaping. They have massive hind legs, which allow the Kangaroo Rat to jump nine feet at a time, allowing the rat to escape from fast and sneaky animals.  In fact this animal gets its name from the way it hops like a kangaroo.


Did You Know?

  • Kangaroo rats neither sweat nor pant like other animals to keep cool.
  • They also have specialized kidneys, which allow them to dispose of waste materials with very little output of water.
  • Kangaroo rats don't even need water to bathe - instead they will take a dust bath by rolling around in the sand!
  • Kangaroo rats have a cooling system in their nasal passages that reduces moisture loss


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