May
26
2009

Jump around (word to your moms)

Lesser Egyptian Jerboa
Lesser Egyptian JerboaCourtesy cliff1066
So I was searching YouTube for clips of Alex Trebek (what? I just love Canada. And knowledge. Is that so wrong?), and I clicked on one of the related videos, because I am a spontaneous and fun-loving person. I take big risks. Anyway, the video I found was of an animal called a pygmy jerboa. I watched it, and then I watched it again. Thing is mesmerizing. It hops!

So, being the good investigatory journalist that I am, (Zoolander? Anybody?) I decided to put the old Google-box to work. Lo and behold, I discovered that the pygmy jerboa is only the tip of the iceberg. There’s a whole bunch of different kinds of jerboas! They belong to the family Dipodidae, also known as the most awesome rodent family ever. Why? Two words: Bipedal jumping. Yup, that’s right. Cute little mouse-y things that can hop on two legs. Like kangaroos, but way smaller. And without that whole pouch thing, so not really like kangaroos at all.

Why did the Jerboa hop across the desert? To get away from the predator, of course. Or at least, that’s why scientists think that the animal moves the way it does. Jerboas live in deserts throughout Asia and northern Africa, and they have to cover a lot of ground to find food, the better to use long hind legs and big feet to hop with.

Jerboas, like many desert animals, are nocturnal. They burrow during the day to escape the hot sun. They actually create two different kinds of burrows: permanent, camouflaged burrows to hang out in during the day, and temporary ones to hide from predators in at night.

All jerboas have very long tails. African jerboas tend to have only three toes on their hind feet while Asian jerboas have five. They all have long, silky fur. Some jerboas have huge ears, like the Long-eared Jerboa, but some have regular ear-sized ears. Some jerboas are omnivores, but most are simply seed-and-nut-etarians.

Both the Five-toed Pygmy Jerboa and the Thick-tailed Pygmy Jerboa are considered to be at risk for extinction. And that is just not cool. Why, you ask? Because they are cute and weird and survive in the harshest climates in the world.

So what have we learned today? Nothing bad ever comes from Alex Trebek.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

I saw that video yesterday on Gawker, I think. I only hope that we're on the front edge of a massive pygmy jerboa internet phenomenon.

Oh, man, when the little guy slips and falls of the edge off the scale, or when he turns in a circle so he can pick up his tail... So cute... I just wanted to bite his little head off and eat him up, so he could be with me forever.

posted on Wed, 05/27/2009 - 11:53am
elana max's picture
elana max says:

My source has been exposed. On to Dlisted for my next science article.

posted on Wed, 05/27/2009 - 10:02pm
curious's picture
curious says:

ahh...i'm assuming they are in the same family as kangaroo mouse...umm...or rat, can't remember. the ones that don't drink water! instead they get all their necessary water from the food they eat, due to their hot-lack-of-watery enviroments?

posted on Thu, 05/28/2009 - 4:47pm
crazydegulover's picture
crazydegulover says:

I came across these awesome critters a few months back when I was researching degus, which I thought were the coolest little animals and instantly became mesmerized by these jereboas. If you don't know what a degu is you should definitely check them out. They are wicked awesome little squirrel like animals from chile. I have two but they definitely require a lot of things and need lots of room to play along with lots of attention. I would definitely love to own a pair of jerboas some day. I just hope theres something we can do to help prevent these unique beings from becoming extinct

posted on Fri, 02/11/2011 - 9:51pm

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