Temporal range: Late Pleistocene - Recent
A kangaroo mouse is either one of the two species of jumping mouse (genus Microdipodops) native to the deserts of the Southwestern United States. Most of them can be found in the state of Nevada. The name "kangaroo mouse" refers to the species' extraordinary jumping ability, as well as its habit of bipedal locomotion. The two species are:
Both species of kangaroo mouse live in sandy desert ecosystems. They forage for seeds and vegetation amongst the scrub brush of their native habitat. The Dark Kangaroo Mouse is also known to feed occasionally on insects and carrion. Interestingly, the mouse never drinks water, instead deriving it metabolically from the foods it eats. The kangaroo mouse collects food and maintains large stocks in their burrows. These burrows are excavated to a length of between 3 and 8 feet (1 to 2.5 meters). The burrow, the entrance to which the mouse covers during daylight hours, is also used to raise litters of between 2 and 7 young. 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. Kangaroo mice are nocturnal, and are most active in the two hours following sunset. They are believed to hibernate during cold weather.
Kangaroo mice in pop culture[change | change source]
- In Frank Herbert's classic science fiction series Dune, the protagonist Paul Atreides acquires the name Muad'Dib, which in the Fremen language of Chakobsa means kangaroo mouse. On the planet Arrakis, kangaroo mice are known as "instructor-of-boys," due to their great survival abilities.