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Ord's Kangaroo Rat (Dipodomys ordii)

Ord's Kangaroo Rat (Dipodomys ordii)
Ord's Kangaroo Rat (Dipodomys ordii)

Photo credit: Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks

Total Length: 10.4-11.1 in.; tail: 5.6 - 6.2 in.
Habitat: sandy soils in open areas with sparse brush and grass

The Ord's Kanagaroo Rat is the most wide-ranging kangaroo rat. It is a bipedal hopper, living in dry, sandy areas. Its tail and hind legs are large and are used for motion, for dodging predatos and for communicating and fighting with other kangaroo rats. It makes burrows in the sand where it hides during the day. The burriws, less than 3 feet deep, lead to a grass-lined nest and side chambers for seed storahe as well as some surface branching tunnels.

Dipodomys—the first part of its scientific name— means "two-footed mouse"; ordii is named after pioneer American zoologist George Ord.

The Ord's Kanagaroo Rat eats most kinds of seeds found in the areas where it lives. It will also eat grasshoppers, moths and other insects along with some roots and green leafy material. Heteromyds, such as kangaroo rats can live in the driest habitats, obtaining all the water they need from dried plant seeds.

Kangaroo rats are solitary and territorial. Individuals fight by jumping in the air and slashing at each other with their clawed hind legs. They also turn backwards and kick sand at enemies, including rattlesnakes.

Kangaroo rats have large eyes that give them excellent night vision and a view or aerial predators such as owls. Their hugely enlarged eardrums are sensitive to very low-frequency sounds, which enables them to hear the wing beat of an approaching owl and detect the air-pressure wave of a striking rattlesnake. Because of this ability, kangaroo rats are often able to leap out of the way of a striking rattlesnake. A kangaroo rat can leap 6 feet in one hop.

Taxonomic Hierarchy

  Kingdom Animalia — Animals  
     Phylum Chordata  — Chordates  
        Subphylum Vertebrata — Vertebrates  
           Class Mammalia  — Mammals  
              Order Rodentia — Rodents  
                 Family Heteromyidae  — Heteromyid rodents, kangaroo mice, kangaroo rats, pocket mice  
                    Genus Dipodomys — Kangaroo rats  
                       Species Dipodomys ordii — Ord's kangaroo rat




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