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Stephens' 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 (check the links below), although they vary by about 4-fold in size.   This species, Stephens' kangaroo rat, lives only in western Riverside County, California and a few adjacent areas.  It is a Federally-listed endangered species, because its favorite habitat -- grasslands -- is also the favorite habitat of housing developments.   Several other California K-rats are also endangered because of habitat loss.   Listing of this species was highly controversial because it brought development to a halt until a species recovery plan could be designed.   Many people were offended that 'a rat' was being federally protected, but it is a much more interesting and attractive animal than a standard rat.   I photographed these on warm summer evenings at the University of California's Motte Rimrock Reserve, one of the few strongholds of Stephen's kangaroo rat.   Other species pictured on this site include:

  • Canon 1D Mk. II or 1D3, 500 IS lens plus 1.4X or 2X converter and electronic flash (2006, 2009)