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Animals

Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

Merriam's Kangaroo Rat: 21 Facts You Won't Believe!

Learn more about some very interesting Merriam's kangaroo rat facts here

The Merriam's kangaroo rat (Dipodomys merriami) species are tiny rodents that are members of the family Heteromyid. They are often referred to as pocket mice due to their size. These animals are capable of stuffing food in their cheeks to eat later on, which causes their cheeks to look quite adorable at times. They have big eyes and small ears, which make them look endearing. You may even see this species of rodents hopping and jumping around on their hind feet!

This species of rodents have got kangaroo in their name because they are bipedal meaning they jump around just using two of their legs. Their long tail adds support while they do so. This fur-lined species is often light brown or tan in color.

To know more about some interesting animals, be sure to check out mice facts, or Syrian hamster facts.

Merriam's Kangaroo Rat Interesting Facts

What type of animal is Merriam's kangaroo rat?

These animals are species of rodents. As they are granivores, they usually feed on plant seeds that are mostly found in desert scrub regions. These nocturnal creatures are quite active during the nighttime. Throughout North America, over 22 subspecies of this animal can be found.  They are also found in Southern California. The population of this creature is widespread across the North American wildlife, however, a subspecies of these rats called San Bernardino kangaroo rats are currently listed as Endangered.

What class of animal does a Merriam's kangaroo rat belong to?

They belong to the class Mammalia in the family Heteromyidae.

How many Merriam's kangaroo rats are there in the world?

In a numerical aspect, Merriam's kangaroo rats' range has not been impacted much and its population is considered to be stable across the United States as well as Mexico and California.  

Where does a Merriam's kangaroo rat live?

They usually live in desert regions and prefer soft sandy soils.  They are also found in the upper and lower Sonoran life zones of the southwestern United States and also in various regions like San Diego, San Bernardino, and northern Mexico as well as southern California. This animal loves living in desert regions and their burrow system can be seen quite a lot there.

What is a Merriam's kangaroo rat's habitat?

This creature resides in arid or semi-arid regions of Northwestern America. They can also be found near some patchy desert scrub, Joshua tree habitat, and sandy soft soils that are great for burrowing. They especially love living in the Joshua tree habitat since they have an ample supply of food living there. A high number of the population of this rat is seen in San Diego County and many of them can be found in the burrows in California.

Who do Merriam's kangaroo rats live with?

Kangaroo rats (Dipodomys merriami) are creatures that enjoy living by themselves in their maze-like burrows. Male and female rats have different territories to defend and protect their own food such supply.

How long do Merriam's kangaroo rats live?

These small adorable rodents don't have a long life span. They usually live up to two to five years, sometimes even up to nine years in a perfect conditional environment.

How do they reproduce?

For this creature, the ideal reproduction time is during summer. Their mating season begins in February and continues till May. The (Dipodomys merriami) engage in a technique called nasal-anal circling in order to select a mate. To ensure greater chances of producing offspring, female rats mate with multiple males. The gestation period usually lasts for 27-32 days. Some species are anywhere between one and seven babies in a year.

What is their conservation status?

The (Dipodomys merriami) population is considered to be stable. They are currently classified as Least Concern. However, researchers have observed habitat destruction and fragmentation may cause an impact on their population.

Merriam's Kangaroo Rat Fun Facts

What do Merriam's kangaroo rats look like?

These animals are often called pocket mice due to their size and are really cute creatures. They have a puffy stomach and compared to other rodents these are much smaller in size, however, their tails are longer than their whole body providing them balance. They also have cheek pouches that let them store food like plant seeds or small insects while they forage.

If you're interested, read more about some fascinating Merriam's kangaroo rat facts right here

How cute are they?

These rodents are the epitome of cuteness. On a scale of one to ten, they'd probably be a nine, especially when they are jumping around on their feet. One might even find these cuter than hamsters!

How do they communicate?

Due to their wide ears, foot-drumming is one of the main forms of communication between these mammals. Merriam's kangaroo rat habitat is mainly found at the base of shrubs where they can communicate messages seismically about territorial ownerships, mating, or be alert from predators like falcons.

How big is a Merriam's kangaroo rat?

Merriam's kangaroo rat size is influenced by its diet. These animals are quite small. Merriam's kangaroo rat size can range from 3.5-5.5 in (8 -14 cm) and their tail can be 5.5-6.5 in (14-16 cm) long. The largest (Dipodomys merriami) was seen to have a body length of 12.2-13.7 in (30.9-34.7 cm).

How fast can a Merriam's kangaroo rat run?

In wildlife, Merriam's kangaroo rats life is endangered as they can easily fall prey to venomous cottonmouth snakes or rattlesnakes but due to their big hind feet they can easily run away from their predator in the blink of an eye, they can jump up to 7 ft (2.13 m) of distance at 6.2 mph (10 kmph) and also change directions quickly while hopping.

How much does a Merriam's kangaroo rats weigh?

As fully grown adults, these rats weigh between 2.5-6 oz (70-170 g). Merriam's kangaroo rats diet consists of food like grains or seeds which may be the reason why they are relatively smaller than other rats.

What are the male and female names of the species?

Through Merriam's kangaroo rat life, males are referred to as bucks while females are called dams.

What would you call a baby Merriam's kangaroo rat?

Baby Merriam's kangaroo rats (Dipodomys merriami) are often referred to as a pinkie.

What do they eat?

Merriam's Kangaroo rat diet usually consists of plant seeds or any form of vegetation, they are also seen to be storing seeds like mesquite seeds, creosote bush, and grama grass in their cheek pouches. As their natural habitat is the arid or semi-arid region they need to gather as much food as they can and store them in their burrows.

Are they dangerous?

No, they are not dangerous but it is seen that some kangaroo rats have become a common pest and could carry fleas, passing them onto humans.

Would they make a good pet?

No, they would not make a good pet as they are aggressive in nature and prefer to live alone in their burrows. They also require a certain climate and have a demanding diet as they happen to be a species of animals that originate from the desert. It is also illegal to own this creature as a pet.

Did you know...

As kangaroo rats live in the desert, some species eat the pads, sprouted buds of some types of cactus. Drinking too much water can cause death in kangaroo rats as their body cannot withstand a lot of water, it flushes out of their body along with the nutrients it needs.

Due to the Merriam's kangaroo rat distribution sometimes their territories tend to overlap with another animal species.

Even though these are referred to as kangaroo rats, these animals do not share any resemblance with rats or kangaroos but are somewhere close to pocket mice. It has been seen that kangaroo rats do not sweat or pant so that it wouldn't cause them to lose the water content present in their body.

Do Merriam's kangaroo rats like to be held?

No, they do not like to be held at all or cuddled up. As they are small in size they like having their space and running around in their burrows.

How do I get rid of kangaroo rats?

If these rats are seen in your neighborhood trying to feed on your crops the best way to get rid of them is by setting up house traps, or by using rodent sprays. Ultrasonic repellent devices have also become an option to get rid of pets these days.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these tufted titmouse facts and wood mouse facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Merriams kangaroo rat coloring pages.

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