The Jerboa family is a very interesting group of rodents which have adapted themselves to living in both hot and cold deserts.



Jerboas feed on desert plants. Just after the rains, there are plenty of fresh green leaves, but as the plants dry up, these become more scarce, so the jerboas dig up the roots in which the plants store water and eat these instead. Some species also feed on beetles and other small insects. 95% of the long-eared jerboa's diet in Mongolia are insects, even those that fly as they can locate their prey's approach by using their sense of hearing.  The jerboa's bounding gait allows it to travel long distances in search of food with a minimum of energy loss.

Jerboas do not actually drink water. They get their water by extracting as much moisture as possible from their food. In the laboratory, jerboas have lived for up to three years on dry seeds alone. They eat moist leaves and shoots whenever possible, but can survive in dry periods by minimising their water loss. Their urine is very concentrated and highly acidic. During the hot summer months, some species go into a state of torpor and do not emerge from their burrows at all. For the rest of the year, hot desert - dwelling jerboas do most of their feeding at night when it is cooler. Cold desert - dwelling jerboas hibernate over the winter and live off their body fats.

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