HAIRY-FOOTED JERBOA – Dipus sagitta

HAIRY-FOOTED JERBOA

Hairy-footed jerboa facts: Also known as the feather-footed jerboa, rough-legged jerboa, and northern three-toed jerboa, the hairy-footed jerboa was first discovered in 1773. Its body ranges in length from 4.5 to 6 inches (11.5 to 14.5 centimeters), while its tail is typically 7 to 7.1 inches (17.5 to 18 centimeters) long. These mammals weigh between 2.4 and 4 ounces (69 to 104 grams). Underparts are white, and upperparts change from orangey and black in the winter to pale, sandy buff color in summer.

Geographic range: A resident of the Middle East, Asia, and Europe, the hairy-footed jerboa occupies ten isolated, large areas and several smaller fragments of habitat in the northern Iranian sand deserts, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, southwestern Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China, and eastern Russia.

Hairy-footed jerboa habitat: At the northern extreme of its range, the hairy-footed jerboa lives in sparsely vegetated areas of pine forests, but in general this mammal occupies sandy expanses of steppes, deserts, and semi-deserts. In central Asia, this jerboa also lives in places with hard rocky or gravelstrewn surfaces.

What does hairy-footed jerboa eat: While the hairy-footed jerboa subsists mainly on desert plant greens and seeds, it occasionally preys on insects as well.

Behavior and reproduction: Hairy-footed jerboas mate with more than one individual during the breeding season in spring. Female bear two or three litters per season, in spring and fall. The springborn animals can mate at two-and-a-half to three months, and usually participate in the fall mating. Pregnancy lasts thirty-five days, and the number of young varies from one to eight. In springtime, female adults are usually still nursing their fall litter when they mate again.

Hairy-footed jerboas are solitary creatures, although they willingly tolerate overlapping home ranges. The vast majority of their contacts in nature (versus those in captivity) are non-aggressive. When captive, males and females form pairs and sleep together in a single nest.

Hairy-footed jerboas and people: There are no records of significant interactions between this species and humans.

Conservation status: The hairy-footed jerboa is common in all of its habitats, with the exception of one subspecies, which is listed as Vulnerable because of the expansion of steppes through areas of open sand dunes in southeastern Russia.