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Ord's kangaroo rat        Images © Mark A. Chappell

Kangaroo rats (genus Dipodomys) are a group of burrowing North American rodents specialized for seed-eating.   They are named for their bipedal (hopping) locomotion and have large hind feet (shown particularly well in the upper right image), long tails, and short front limbs used mainly for gathering seeds, which are carried in fur-lined external cheek pouches (the one at upper left has very full pouches).   All kangaroo rats closely resemble each other.   This is the widely distributed Ord's kangaroo rat (D. ordii), which lives in scrublands throughout much of western North America.  It's one of the smaller species, weighing 30-50 g as an adult.   This one was lured into posing by baiting with birdseed (nearly all kangaroo rats cannot resist small seeds, and many will even eat them out of your hand); the pictures were taken at the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Lab in the eastern Sierra Nevada (Mono County, California).

These links lead to images of Stephens', Dulzura, Merriam's, Panamint, short-nosed, and giant kangaroo rats, and the related Great Basin pocket mouse.

  • Canon 1D Mk. II, 500 IS lens with extension tubes, some with 1.4X converter, electronic flash (2006)