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Panamint 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 hopping locomotion and have large hind feet, long tails, and short front limbs used mainly for gathering seeds, which are carried in fur-lined external cheek pouches.   All kangaroo rats closely resemble each other, but vary considerably in body size.   This is the Panamint kangaroo rat (D. panamintinus), a medium-sized (60-80 g) species found mainly in creosote bush and Joshua tree scrublands in eastern California and western Nevada.   It also occurs in higher, cooler sagebrush areas, such as in Long Valley in the eastern Sierra Nevada where I took these pictures (the animals were 'bribed' into holding still with birdseed, which most kangaroo rats cannot resist).   Panamints are usually extremely calm if handled gently; I've often 'poured' them out of a live-trap onto my hand, and they invariably pause to collect any seeds from my palm before quietly hopping off.

These links lead to images of Stephens', Dulzura, Merriam's, Ord's, 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)