The San Joaquin kangaroo rat, dipodomys nitratoides, is the smallest of the kangaroo rats. Their heads and bodies measure 3.4 to 4.5 inches (8.8 to 11.5 centimeters) long, with their tails adding an additional 4.9 to 6.1 inches (12.5 to 15.5 centimeters) of length. Their weight is a light 1.2 to 1.8 ounces (36 to 53 grams), with males generally being larger than females. A San Joaquin kangaroo rat can be distinguished from similar species by looking at its hind feet, which have 4 toes as opposed to the 5 that others have. They have sooty-black stripes on both the upper and lower sides of their tails and white stripes across the hips that extend along the sides of the tail.
True to its name, the San Joaquin kangaroo rat can be found only in the San Joaquin Valley and adjacent valleys in California. They will inhabit desert valleys with sandy or silty soil, gentle slopes and scarce shrub cover. This rodent can often be seen slightly raised areas, usually around shrubs or grasses where the soil is easier to dig into. A San Joaquin kangaroo rat uses sand or fine silt to ‘dust bathe’ in and keep its fur in good condition. Their homes are self-made burrows in the ground, which are usually dug at the base of a low bush. Being a nocturnal species, they rest during the day and are most active during the night.
The diet of a San Joaquin kangaroo rat consists mostly of the seeds of annually flowering shrubs and plants, although grasses and herbs that grow due to early rains during the spring are also acceptable. They may also eat insects should the opportunity present itself. This animal can carry food in the fur-lined pouches within its cheeks. They will often store seeds in small pits in their burrow walls or even on the surface of the soil. When faced with a predator, such as bobcats, coyotes, barn owls, hawks and snakes, the only option is to run away.
Breeding Season for the San Joaquin kangaroo rat occurs from December through September. Females will give birth to a litter of 1 to 3 offspring after a gestation period of about 32 days. They may even have as many as 3 litters a year. The newborns will open their eyes after 10 to 11 days, leave the burrow at around 14 to 18 days of age and are weaned when they are 21 to 24 days old.
The San Joaquin kangaroo rat is a vulnerable species. The fact that they are exclusive to one area means they are even more susceptible to human interference. Hopefully, the San Joaquin kangaroo rat can avoid further reduction to its numbers and can continue its peaceful coexistence with people. After all, such a unique rodent deserves to live for future generations to see.
“San Joaquin Kangaroo Rat (Dipodomys Nitratoides)” 6 June 2013
“San Joaquin Kangaroo Rat” 6 June 2013