The Long-Eared Jerboa
The Long-Eared What?
The long-eared jerboa, found in Mongolia and China, is a mouse-like rodent with extremely interesting features. Some scientists believe it might be a distant relative of the gerbil. This small, nocturnal mammal is only three inches long with a tail twice it's body length. The long-eared jerboa's long tail gives it good balance while it runs and jumps. This tail is the same color as the rest of the body but ends with a black and white tuft. The long-eared jerboa weighs, on average, one ounce.
Long-eared jerboas are reddish/brown in color with white bellies.
These rodents have long hind legs and move much like kangaroos. They have large back feet. Their soles are covered with stiff hairs that help them travel across the desert floor. Their front legs are rather small, relatively speaking, making them useless for locomotion.
The long-eared jerboa is now being considered for the endangered species list. Their population is rapidly declining due to habitat disturbance. Humans are taking over the long-eared jerboa's habitat. An increase in grazing livestock doesn't help this mammal's cause. Steps are now being taken to protect the long-eared jerboa.
Huh? What Did You Say?
The long-eared jerboa's most unique characteristic is in it's name...its long ears. Three times the size of their heads, the jerboa's ears allow them to hear predators from a great distance.
During the day, long-eared jerboas hide in underground burrows. At night, they scurry across the desert floor looking for insects and other small critters. They are able to find insects with their keen sense of hearing. It is this acute sense that allows them to prey on flying insects as well.
Long-eared jerboas use vibrations to communicate with one another. They also engage in chemical communication by engaging in dust bathing.
The rodent's large ears are also said to be a desert adaptation. The larger ear surface allows them to dissipate heat and cool down their blood under the hot, desert sun.
Teeny Tiny Babies
Can you imagine how small the long-eared jerboa's babies must be? Microscopic!
The long-eared jerboa mommas have two litters of babies per summer. They begin as soon as they come out of hibernation. They are in gestation for roughly 30 days and bear litters ranging in size from two to six.
Never Heard Of Them
Because long-eared jerboas live in such remote parts of Mongolia and China, scientists have a tough time studying them. As a result, very little is known about this tiny creature. The first video ever shot of these little rodents was in 2007.