The Llong-eared jerboa, which inhabits China and Mongolia, is a rodent with features similar to those of a mouse and some further very interesting features. Some scientists are of the opinion that it could be distantly related to the gerbil. Its tail is twice its body length, giving it good balance when it runs and jumps. It has long back legs with large feet and moves much like a kangaroo. The soles of their feet are covered in stiff hairs which help when traveling over the desert. The front legs are relatively rather small, and they are not useable for getting around. Species from this family are usually characterized by their amazing adaptations for jumping, thought to be an evolution as a strategy to deal with predators. The life span of Long-eared jerboas is unknown, however, their average longevity is 2 to 3 years.
Long-eared jerboas inhabit the Palearctic region, from the southern tip of Mongolia in the Takla-Makan Desert, Aerijin Mountain, Mengxin, and Qing-Zang Plateau areas of north western China. They live in desert habitats, preferring sandy river basins and low shrub cover.
Habits and lifestyle
Because these animals live in parts of China and Mongolia that are so remote, it is hard for scientists to study them, and therefore there is very little known about this tiny animal. All information about their social behavior is taken from data about related species. Other jerboas are primarily nocturnal and solitary, spending the day in the underground burrows which they have dug, often creating four different types: a temporary, day, summer burrow for cover when hunting in the daytime, a second temporary burrow for hunting at night, as well as two permanent burrows: a summer one and a winter one. Permanent summer burrows are used throughout summer and this is where the young are raised. Jerboas hibernate in the winter in the permanent winter burrow. Long-eared jerboas hop like kangaroos, jumping over the sand.
Diet and nutrition
Long-eared jerboas are insectivorous, they eat mostly flying insects.
The mating system for these animals is not known. However, that of a closely related species suggests that it could be polygynous. For closely related jerboa species breeding usually happens soon after emerging from winter hibernation. Females breed twice during summer and raise 2 to 6 young. The gestation period is from 25 to 35 days. Not much is known about parental care, but like most mammals, long-eared jerboas nurse and look after their offspring at least until weaning takes place.
after winter hibernation
pup, pinkie, kit
The greatest threat to this species is human disturbance to its habitat. Greater numbers of grazing livestock could be a threat in certain areas, as are drought and the drying up of water sources.
According to IUCN, Long-eared jerboa is widely distributed throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. Currently this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List.
Being insectivorous, these animals affect insect populations in their range.
Fun facts for kids
- Long-eared jerboas catch insects by leaping quickly into the air.
- The large ears of these animals are thought to be an adaptation to the desert. The larger ear surface enables them to cool down their blood and dissipate heat in hot, desert temperatures.
- The jerboa's large ears means that they can hear predators from very far away.
- Long-eared jerboas communicate with each other through vibrations. They also use chemical communication through dust bathing.
- Instead of drinking water, jerboas get all the moisture they need from their food, mostly insects and plants.
- A jerboa has a flap of skin in its nose and hair in its ears to prevent sand entering.