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The name “Kangaroo Mouse” refers to the species’ extraordinary jumping ability, as well as its habit of bipedal locomotion.

A Kangaroo Mouse (genus: Microdipodops) is either one of the two species of jumping mouse native to certain deserts the deserts of the southwestern United States, predominantly found in the state of Nevada. Although native to the deserts in the southwest they have been plentiful in Missouri and Pennsylvania.

The species are the Pale Kangaroo Mouse (Microdipodops Pallidus) and the Dark Kangaroo Mouse (Microdipodops Megacephalus).

The Dark Kangaroo Mouse has buff or a brownish upperpart tinted with black and has gray or whitish underparts with a black-tipped tail, whereas the upperparts and entire tail of the pale kangaroo mouse are creamy buff and the underparts are white.

Kangaroo Mice weigh 10-17gms (0.4-0.6ozs) and have a body length of approx 8cms (3ins) and a tail 6-10cms (2.4-4ins) long. The tail is used for balance as the mice move across the ground via leaps and bounds. The middle of the tail bulges slightly owing to its deposit of stored fat, a unique feature of small mammals native to North America. The deposit enlarges during the summer and is used as an energy source during hibernation.

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They have large ears and a large head with fur-lined external cheek pouches. The forelimbs are short, but the hind limbs and feet are long. Stiff hairs fringe the hind feet, and the soles are densely furred. The soft, silky coat is long and lax.

Kangaroo Mice live in valley bottoms and alluvial fans of the Great Basin, where stabilized dunes of fine wind-blown sand and other sandy soils are common. Where ranges of the two species overlap in Nevada, the Pale Kangaroo Mouse burrows only in fine sand, while the Dark Kangaroo Mouse prefers fine, gravelly soils but may also burrow in sand or sandy soil.

The simple burrows of Kangaroo Mice are usually excavated with the entrance near a shrub, which the mouse covers during daylight hours.

They usually forage for seeds and vegetation amongst the scrub brush of their native habitat. When foraging on open ground away from any shrub canopy, they carry food in their cheek pouches to the burrow for storage.

Breeding all summer, the burrow is also used to raise litters of between 2 and 7 younglings that are called a ‘pinkie, kitten or pup’.

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Kangaroo Mouse females are called ‘doe’ and males ‘buck’ and a group is called a ‘nest, colony, harvest, horde or mischief’.

They maintain large caches in their burrows, which are excavated to a length of between 1-2½ meters (3-8ft).

The Dark Kangaroo Mouse is also known to feed occasionally on insects and carrion.

Kangaroo Mice are nocturnal, and are most active in the two hours following sunset.

Kangaroo Mice do not need to drink water; instead, they obtain what they require from a diet of seeds and the occasional insect.

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The Kangaroo Mouse is active only during the cool desert nights and they further reduce their water needs by producing concentrated urine and dry feces.

Winter is cold and harsh in the high Great Basin, so Kangaroo Mice survive it by hibernating from about November until March.

The Kangaroo Mouse is closely related to the Kangaroo Rats, which belong to the same subfamily, Dipodomyinae. They can be distinguished by the tail, which unlike that of the larger Kangaroo Rats is neither crested nor tufted. Both groups belong to the family Heteromyidae (Greek: “other mice” or “different mice”) and are not classified with the ‘true mice’ (family Muridae). Pocket mice are related to Kangaroo Mice and also belong to the family Heteromyidae, which is related to the pocket gopher family (Geomyidae) within the order Rodentia.

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Source: several sites on the net.

 

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