Great Gerbil

Great Gerbil

name = Great Gerbil
status = LR/lc | status_system = IUCN2.3
fossil_range = Late Pliocene - Recent
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Mammalia
ordo = Rodentia
familia = Muridae
subfamilia = Gerbillinae
genus = "Rhombomys"
genus_authority = Wagner, 1841
species = "R. opimus"
binomial = "Rhombomys opimus"
binomial_authority = (Lichtenstein, 1823)
The Great Gerbil is a large gerbil found throughout much of Central Asia.


The largest of the gerbils, Great Gerbils have a head and body length between 15-20cm. Their skulls are distinctive by having two grooves in each incisor. They have large front claws used for burrowing.

The burrows can be fairly extensive with separate chambers for nests and food storage. These animals spend considerably more time in the burrows during winter, but do not hibernate. They are predominantly diurnal. Food consists mostly of vegetable matter.

Great Gerbils are found in arid habitats, predominantly in sandy or clay deserts. They are found in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran.

The animals are often colonial, with multiple individuals inhabiting a single burrow system. Longevity is 2-4 years. Burrow system complexes have a distinctive region of cleared soil and can be easily seen in aerial photos.coord|44.765651|-76.448901|display=title

Great Gerbils are known reservoirs of "Yersinia" the parasite that causes plague. They are also known as crop pests and have been implicated in exacerbating erosion.

Largely ignored in Western taxonmies of rodents, the Great Gerbils was recognized as a species separate from the common gerbil in the 1960s, after the work of the American zoologist Sarah Cheeseman, primarily because of their ability to host and transmit different bacteria and viruses.


*Nowak, R. M. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, Vol. 2. Johns Hopkins University Press, London.

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