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Animal of the Week: Jerboa

By Kathrine Ledermann, Features Contributor

The long-eared jerboa (Euchoreutes naso) looks like a made-up creature: rabbit ears, kangaroo legs, the face of a mouse and a random tail that looks like it’s there for absolutely no reason. However, all of these features help the jerboa to survive. The large ears give them warning of any nearby predators, away from which their nimble legs can leap, up to six feet out of danger’s way. When they’re not jumping, the jerboa’s tail helps it to stand upright. This could come in handy whenever the jerboa decides to hunt for small insects with their tiny front legs throughout the desert. Their tan-shaded coat color helps them to blend into those kinds of habitats.

This species is native to the drier areas of northwest China and southern Mongolia in oases or valleys. They compete with gerbils for food; however, their greatest threat is humans. This is a result of livestock being able to roam in the same places they do, as well as domestic cats living in the same spaces. Luckily, their populations are still robust enough to be considered “Least Concern,” according to the IUCN Red List. Their locations in broad areas of China and Mongolia make it difficult to assess proper population sizes and behaviors, so there is a lot of grey area with these animals. Much of their behavior is hypothesized by studying other types of jerboas.

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