Distribution: North Africa, China
Hot and cold deserts.
Life span: 6 years.
IUCN red list: least concern
- vulnerable species.
Desert animals have to be able to cope with very harsh conditions. There are both hot and cold deserts around the world. In both types of desert climate, animals have to be able to exist in an area which is almost waterless for most of the year. In both types of desert, temperatures can vary widely. The Sahara in Africa, the world's hottest desert, has daytime temperatures as high as 58°C which can fall away to below freezing at night. Meanwhile, in the cold Asian deserts such as the Gobi, temperatures may fall to below -20°C for more than six months of the year.
The Jerboa family is a very interesting group of rodents which have adapted themselves to living in both hot and cold deserts. They are unusual looking creatures to say the least. The head and body are roughly similar in appearances to those of a mouse and range from 3 - 15cm in length depending on species. The tail is larger than the head and body, ranging from 6 - 23cm.
It is used for balance when the jerboa is on the move and as a prop when the animal is sitting upright. In some species the ears are small and mouse-like, whilst in others the ears are long and rabbit-like. The most unusual things about the jerboa though are its hind legs, which tend to be around four times as long as the fore limbs.Read More: Behaviour