kangaroo rat

1. any of various small jumping rodents of the family Heteromyidae, of Mexico and the western U.S.
2. an Australian desert rodent of the genus Notomys.
[1780-90]

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Any of about 25 species (genus Dipodomys, family Heteromyidae) of rodents that leap about on their hind legs; found in dry regions of North America.

They have large heads, large eyes, short forelimbs, long hind limbs, and fur-lined external cheek pouches that open alongside the mouth. They are 4–6.5 in. (10–16 cm) long without the long tail, which usually ends in a furry tuft. They are pale buff to brown above and white below, with a white stripe on each hip. They forage by night for seeds, leaves, and other vegetation, carrying food in their cheek pouches to store in their burrows, but seldom drink water.

Kangaroo rat (Dipodomys).

Anthony Mercieca from Root Resources

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rodent
 any of 22 species of bipedal North American desert rodents (rodent) with a tufted tail. Kangaroo rats have large heads and eyes, short forelimbs, and very long hind legs and feet. Fur-lined external cheek pouches open alongside the mouth and can be everted for cleaning. Kangaroo rats are considered medium-sized, weighing 35 to 180 grams (1.2 to 6.3 ounces), with a body 10 to 20 cm (4 to 8 inches) long and a tail of similar length. Fur is soft, dense, and silky and ranges in colour from sandy to dark brown with white facial markings, a white strip on each hip, and white underparts. The hairy tail bears a prominent white or brown tuft and balances the body during movement. Kangaroo rats hop on their hind legs up to 2 metres (6.6 feet) at a bound and use their forelegs only when traversing short distances. They keep their fur clean by bathing in fine sand; without this relief, they develop body sores and matted fur.

      Kangaroo rats excavate burrows either below the surface of the ground or within large mounds of earth; some species construct nests. Although they are desert dwellers, most species are good swimmers. They seldom drink water, obtaining sufficient moisture from their diet of seeds, stems, buds, fruit, and insects. Chisel-toothed kangaroo rats (Dipodomys microps) are one of the few mammals that can eat the salty leaves of the saltbush (Atriplex), which is common in the Great Basin. Peeling the skin from each leaf with their lower front teeth, they consume the underlying layers, which are rich in water and nutrients. Kangaroo rats forage at night and transport food in their cheek pouches to store either in the burrow or in shallow pits nearby. No kangaroo rats hibernate; instead, they depend upon cached food during the winter. After about a month's gestation, one or more litters per year of two to five young are born.

      Found in western North America from southern Canada to southern Mexico, kangaroo rats prefer well-drained sandy or gravelly soils in a variety of open, sparsely vegetated, hot and dry habitats such as chaparral and sagebrush, desert grassland, mixed grass- and scrubland, and piñon-juniper woodland. The Texas kangaroo rat (D. elator) constructs burrows in disturbed areas along fencerows and pasture roads and around stock corrals, barns, and grain-storage facilities. Recently, accelerated transformation of desert habitats by residential and agricultural development has imperiled several species of kangaroo rat.

      Kangaroo rats are classified in the family Heteromyidae (Greek: “other mice,” or “different mice”) rather than with the “true” mice (family Muridae) within the order Rodentia. Their closest living relatives are kangaroo mice (kangaroo mouse) and pocket mice (pocket mouse), both of which are also heteromyids. Pocket gophers (pocket gopher) (family Geomyidae) are related to the family Heteromyidae. The kangaroo rat's evolutionary history began during the Late Miocene Epoch (11.2 million to 5.3 million years ago) in North America.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Kangaroo rat — Rat Rat (r[a^]t), n. [AS. r[ae]t; akin to D. rat, OHG. rato, ratta, G. ratte, ratze, OLG. ratta, LG. & Dan. rotte, Sw. r[*a]tta, F. rat, Ir. & Gael radan, Armor. raz, of unknown origin. Cf. {Raccoon}.] 1. (Zo[ o]l.) One of several species of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • kangaroo rat — n. (Zool.) A jumping rodent of the genus {Dipodomys} of the family {Heteromyidae}, which lives in arid regions of Mexico and the western U. S. [PJC] 2. (Zool.) An Australian mammal of the genus {Notomys}. [PJC] 3. (Zool.) a small ratlike… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • kangaroo rat — n. ☆ 1. any of a genus (Dipodomys, family Heteromyidae) of small, long legged, jumping, mouselike rodents living in desert regions of the SW U.S. and Mexico 2. RAT KANGAROO …   English World dictionary

  • kangaroo rat — kangaroo′ rat n. mam any of various small jumping rodents of the genus Dipodomys, of Mexico and W North America • Etymology: 1780–90 …   From formal English to slang

  • Kangaroo rat — This article is about the American animal. For the Australian animal, see Hopping mouse. Not to be confused with the genus Aepyprymnus, known as rat kangaroos. Kangaroo rats Temporal range: Late Pliocene Recent Scientific classificatio …   Wikipedia

  • kangaroo rat — noun 1. any of various leaping rodents of desert regions of North America and Mexico; largest members of the family Heteromyidae • Syn: ↑desert rat, ↑Dipodomys phillipsii • Hypernyms: ↑pocket rat • Hyponyms: ↑Ord kangaroo rat, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • kangaroo rat — Potoroo Po to*roo , n. (Zo[ o]l.) Any small kangaroo belonging to {Hypsiprymnus}, {Bettongia}, and allied genera, native of Australia and Tasmania. Called also {kangaroo rat}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • kangaroo rat — /kæŋgəˈru ræt / (say kangguh rooh rat) noun any of various small jumping rodents of the family Heteromyidae, of Mexico and the western United States, such as those of the genus Dipodomys …   Australian English dictionary

  • kangaroo rat — noun Date: 1867 any of a genus (Dipodomys) of nocturnal burrowing rodents of arid parts of western North America that travel by hopping on their long hind legs and have a long tail and fur lined cheek pouches …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • kangaroo rat — noun Any of many different species of rodent that moves about by hopping. Syn: hopping mouse …   Wiktionary

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