What Is a Jerboa and How Far Can It Jump?
Jerboa is a small, jumping rodent of the family Dipodidae, found in arid parts of Asia, N Africa, and SE Europe. There are about 25 jerboa species, 22 of them in Asia. Jerboas have extremely long hind feet, short forelegs and a tail which is longer than the head and body put together; they always hop like kangaroos and at a top speed can cover 06 feet (1.8 m) in a single jump.
The tail trails behind and helps to balance the jerboa as it shoots through the air, often faster than the eye can see. Jerboas have long silky fur, buff colored above and pale below; members of most species have a black face mask and tail tuft. They have large eyes and long ears.
The combined head and body length is between 2 and 8 in. (5–20 cm), depending on the species; the tail is usually somewhat longer than the body. When the animal sits, the tail is used as a prop. Solitary, nocturnal animals, with a low tolerance for heat, jerboas spend the day in individual burrows with plugged entrances.
In the northern parts of their range they hibernate; some jerboas of the true deserts aestivate. They feed on plant matter, especially seeds, and insects. They do not drink, but survive on water obtained from food or produced by their own metabolism. The similar appearing kangaroo rat and jumping mouse of North America are not of the same family as the jerboa.