April has a master's degree in psychology and has experience teaching special populations from preschoolers to adults.
Where Do We Find Kangaroo Rats?
The kangaroo rat lives in deserts, where it is hot and dry most of the time, but it has a special way of handling this. This small mammal never has to drink water because it gets all the water it needs from the seeds it eats. You can find kangaroo rats in the deserts of California, Arizona, Nevada, Canada, and Mexico.
What Does the Kangaroo Rat Look Like?
Using its tail, which is longer than its body, the kangaroo rat jumps up to nine feet in one leap, darting left and right to avoid predators. This little rodent is only 3 ½ to 5 ½ inches long, which would fit very easily into your hand. It has big eyes and small ears that hear so well it can even tell when a silent owl is swooping in to catch it.
The kangaroo rat's sandy brown hair blends in well with its environment, making it harder for predators to see it. It has a white belly and its tail has a white, fluffy tip. Its back feet are large, helping it to hop around, and it uses its short front paws for digging and eating seeds, which are its favorite food.
What Does the Kangaroo Rat Eat?
Besides seeds, the kangaroo rat also eats mesquite beans, which come from mesquite trees that often grow in deserts. Sometimes the kangaroo rat also eats green plants and insects.
When you go to the grocery store, what do you put your food in to carry it home? Well, the kangaroo rat doesn't have a bag for its seeds, but it does have a handy pocket built right into its cheek. It can store seeds there for weeks while it's looking for a place to make its home.
Where Does it Make its Home?
If you lived in a hot desert, where do you think the coolest place might be? Usually it is under plants and underground. The kangaroo rat knows this, too, and builds its nest by digging a deep burrow in the ground, often under a bush or in sand bank. In this burrow, the kangaroo rat lives alone. It digs several tunnels and makes rooms for storing food as well as one room for its nest. It sleeps there most of the day, coming outside to eat at night when it is cooler.
Kangaroo Rat Life Cycle
At the age of only two months, female kangaroo rats are ready to make a family. They usually give birth to three baby rats at a time, and if the climate is right, meaning there is enough food available, they can have up to four litters (groups of babies) a year.
Kangaroo rats usually live 2-4 years. Except, that is, if caught by a predator, which unfortunately includes many animals. Some of the most common desert animals that like to eat the kangaroo rat are owls, snakes, coyotes, and foxes.
The kangaroo rat is a small rodent with a long tail that lives in deserts. It eats mostly seeds, which it stores in its cheek and underground burrows. The kangaroo rat has many predators, gives birth to up to four litters a year, and lives 2-4 years.
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