Fun Desert Rat-kangaroo Facts For Kids | Kidadl


Fun Desert Rat-kangaroo Facts For Kids

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The Desert rat-kangaroo (Caloprymnus campestris) also known as the Buff-nosed rat-kangaroos, were omnivores and solitary marsupials. Desert rat-kangaroos had a unique method of running, similar to galloping, and were highly active in nature. At night these creatures foraged with the help of their sensitive noses. With the help of their forelimbs, they could dig out the burrows easily on the ground. As they were partially nocturnal, they came out of their nest and foraged for food during the nighttime.

The buff-nosed rat-kangaroo had a small body, and these species did not have attributes such as physical strength, so they became natural prey for fox and cat. These species were endemic to Australia and now due to loss of natural habitat and introduction of invasive species such as rabbit and cattle there was a decline in their population and they are now extinct from the wild.

The Desert rat-kangaroo urine was highly concentrated as their kidneys were efficient and produced only a small amount of urine. The long loops of their henle gave a greater opportunity to them to reabsorb the water.

If you liked these true facts about desert rat-kangaroo, then you'll surely like these facts about musky rat-kangaroo and mongoose lemur too!

Fun Desert Rat-kangaroo Facts For Kids

What do they prey on?

Weevils and beetles

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

21.1-35.2 oz (600-1000 g)

How long are they?

10-11.1 in (25.4-28.2 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?


Skin Type


What were their main threats?

Red Fox And Feral Cat

What is their conservation status?


Where you'll find them?



South Australia









Desert Rat-Kangaroo Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a desert rat-kangaroo?

Desert rat-kangaroo (Caloprymnus campestris) is usually confused with other rodents, instead, they were small marsupials. A Desert rat-kangaroo was an animal of marsupial species, that belonged to the genus Caloprymnus. They appeared to be similar in appearance to Kangaroos but were smaller in size. This species was partially nocturnal as they spend most of their time during the day hiding under the burrows and come out for forage during the night.

What class of animal does a desert rat-kangaroo belong to?

Desert rat-kangaroos (Caloprymnus campestris) belong to the Mammalia class of animals.

How many desert rat-kangaroos are there in the world?

Unfortunately, this species is extinct in the wild and they are not present in our ecosystem.

Where does a desert rat-kangaroo live?

The Desert rat-kangaroo (Caloprymnus campestris) was endemic to the desert region of South Australia, much like the extant common wombat that is also endemic to Australia. The desert rat-kangaroo range started from the borders of the northern territories of Australia to southwestern Queensland.

These species were easily found in the open grasslands, open desert scrub, sandy soil, creosote flats, and washes.

What is a desert rat-kangaroo's habitat?

Desert rat-kangaroos (Caloprymnus campestris) excavated the underground burrows themselves to build a nest nearby little brush or foliage to cover the entrance, these burrows are important as they are crucial in the deserts because of the high temperature in the desert. These animals used this brush or foliage in order to hide from predators.

Females used their long tails to carry the grass to line the pits. These species covered the top of the nest with twigs to cover themselves from the sun. Most often these desert rat-kangaroos were found peeking from the top of their nest and observe the surrounding.

The desert rat-kangaroo spent most of its day in its burrows sleeping and comes out to forage at night when it is cooler.

Who do desert rat-kangaroos live with?

The Desert rat-kangaroo was solitary in nature except for females with young spawns.

How long does a desert rat-kangaroo live?

The average lifespan of the extinct desert rat-kangaroo was 13 years in the wild.

How do they reproduce?

Desert rat-kangaroo females reached sexual maturity at the age of 11 months old, whereas, males reached their sexual maturity after being 12 months old. In a three-week interval, the females of this species went through estrum and were able to mate through the year. These species did not have any specific breeding season as they could breed all year round.

Once females are impregnated by males, they give birth to a single spawn with a gestation period of one month and a pouch period of two to three months.

What is their conservation status?

As per the IUCN Red List, the buff-nosed rat-kangaroo (caloprymnus campestris) is listed as an Extinct species, the last confirmed sighting of this species was made almost 80 years ago.

This species was declared extinct in the year 1994, making it the only vertebrate species to be lost again after being rediscovered even though there were many attempts at keeping their status intact in Queensland and other regions that they inhabited including the regions of South-East Western Australia.

Major reasons for the disappearance and population decline of this species are the introduction of predators in their natural range such as the cat and fox with the increase in competitors such as the grazing cattle and rabbit.

Desert Rat-Kangaroo Fun Facts

What do desert rat-kangaroos look like?

Desert rat-kangaroos (Caloprymnus campestris) was a small-sized marsupial with a pale yellowish-brown color appearance appropriate for the surrounding deserts, similar to the clay soil and lighter abdominal surface. The muzzle of the desert rat-kangaroo is shorter with larger upper lips and the long ears are covered with fur. The distinguishing feature of the desert rat-kangaroo was their large hindlimbs when compared to the size of the forelimbs which allowed them to jump further on the ground and evade their predators, the fourth hind limb toe was the longest and strongest of all. These species had a very long tail which was the same size as the length of their body.

Facts and information about this animal are educational!
*Please note that this is an image of a Tasmanian bettong, not a desert rat-kangaroo. If you have an image of a desert rat-kangaroo please let us know at [email protected].

How cute are they?

The size of these desert rat-kangaroo was small, and the fur and long tail make these marsupials look cute.

How do they communicate?

To communicate with each other Desert rat-kangaroos drummed their feet. Many drumming patterns of other species of kangaroo rats' have been previously contrived. Some use the drumming communicate to inform locations of food and the desert kangaroo rat, living in the desert under the sand dunes, had a scarcity of food. So, if the desert kangaroo rat heard a drum, it ran out of the burrow and chased the other rat away or engaged in a fight.

How big is a desert rat-kangaroo?

An adult desert rat-kangaroo could grow between 10-11.1 in (25.4-28.2 cm) in length with addition to a 12.0-14.8 in (30.7-37.7 cm) long tail. Females were slightly larger than males. When compared to the bandicoots, another marsupial, the original length of the desert rat-kangaroo was half in size without taking the length into consideration.

How fast can a desert rat-kangaroo move?

A desert rat-kangaroo could assume a high speed of up to 12 mph (19.3 kph). These species had a distinct hopping method and the posture was always forward and the tail was long and extended as it moved at high speed.

How much does a desert rat-kangaroo weigh?

The Desert Rat-kangaroo was a small-sized rat-kangaroo weighing 21.1-35.2 oz (600-1000 g), depending upon the age and sex of the creature. In comparison, the large Virginia opossum, another marsupial, weighs 4.1-13.2 lb (1859.7-5987.4 g)!

What are the male and female names of the species?

Unfortunately, no particular names had been assigned to either sex of the species.

What would you call a baby desert rat-kangaroo?

A baby desert rat-kangaroo was called nestling, kitten, pup, or pinkie.

Young rat kangaroos were born underdeveloped and depend on their mothers for over a month before leaving the pouch permanently.

What do they eat?

Desert rat-kangaroo were mainly herbivorous, feeding on foliage and stems of the vegetation found in the desert, but were also found to eat insects such as weevils and beetles. They were so independent of water, that they even ignored the luscious plants of the sandhills. They were able to survive without any water while feeding on green plants found in the deserts.

Are they dangerous?

No, they were not dangerous at all. These species were usually docile and did not attack until provoked, much like the docile tree kangaroo, another Australian resident.

Would they make a good pet?

No, you cannot keep them as a pet as these species of rats are already extinct for our ecosystem. Even if they weren't Extinct, they'd be put under special protection acts and they would be a high-priority status on the IUCN Red List.

Did you know...

The Desert rat-kangaroo had pouches, but not for carrying their babies like kangaroos. The pouches are on the outside of their cheeks and use them for carrying seeds to their nesting burrows.

The Desert rat-kangaroo did not pant or sweat like other mammals to keep themselves cool in the dry desert because that would cause them to lose water from their bodies.

Caloprymnus in Latin means 'beautiful rump', possibly implying its powerful and beautiful hind legs which were a distinguishing feature in the anatomy of these creatures. Whereas, Campestris means 'level countryside', indicating their habitat.

The desert rat-kangaroo had outstanding hearing ability and could detect the silent sound of an owl approaching.

The desert rat-kangaroo's large back legs helped them jump up to 106.2 in (269.7 cm) in one jump escape predator.

The last sighting of desert rat-kangaroo was in 1935 near the east Lake Eyre basin of northern Southern Australia among the foliage and stems. Desert Rat-kangaroo fossil was found at Lake Menindee of New South Wales.

Why is the desert rat-kangaroo extinct?

IUCN Red List has enlisted this species as extinct, as the real reason for the decline and extinction of the Desert rat-kangaroo is unknown. Anyhow, the major threats to the extinct desert rat-kangaroo were related to loss of habitat by intensified wildfires and by the introduction of herbivores competitors such as the rabbit and cattle, and predation by foxes, and cats.

How does a rat-kangaroo survive in the desert?

The rat-kangaroo perfectly adapted to survive in the desert as they learned to survive without ever drinking any water and getting needed moisture from the seeds in their diet.

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 nutria facts and tree kangaroo facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Arizona ringtail cat coloring pages.

Written By
Moumita Dutta

<p>A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.</p>

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