The Adorable Jerboa

Long time readers of this site have probably realized that I’m a bit obsessed with the natural world. In particular I love learning about obscure, strange, and adorable animals. Our planet is home to a lot of weird and fascinating creatures but it’s still honestly a little shocking when I come across one I’ve never even heard of before. Take for example the Gobi Jerboa.

This little rodent is found only in China and Mongolia. As the name implies it lives in the Gobi desert but can also be found in nearby grasslands. Aside from being rather cute for a rodent, these guys are famous for their jumping skills. In fact, they’re such good jumpers that that’s how they mainly avoid predators. Talia Yuki Moore, a Harvard Grad Student studying this fascinating animal, explained their movement like this: “Jerboas have very erratic locomotion, adopting a zigzag trajectory, and can jump several feet both vertically and horizontally, even though they are usually about the size of your fist.”

A closely related cousin, the Long-eared Jerboa are found in southernmost Mongolia all the way to Northern China and are part of the same family. It didn’t seem right to leave them out since they share so much in common with the Gobi Jerboa. I bet you can guess how to spot the difference between them by their unique name. In fact there are 33 subspecies of Jerboa; each one noteworthy in their own way.

2012 - Tunesia - Erg - Jerboa
These little guys are so well adapted to harsh desert climates that they don’t even drink water. They get all of their moisture from solid foods.
Although I only mentioned 2 members, the Jerboa has a fairly extensive family.
Despite being really cute they don’t tend to make very good pets and actually can’t legally be shipped to America without special permissions.
Liu Jian, Xinhua Press/Corbis
Their whiskers are actually very sensitive and some biologists have even called them “cat-like”.
Remember when I said they were great jumpers? On average they can jump about 3 meters. That’s almost 10 feet! Pretty good for such a small guy.
It goes without saying they have amazing hearing.
If you find them in the wild, expect them to be extremely shy and elusive.
Also they rarely leave their burrows during the day.

Check out the video below to see what one looks like in the wild.


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