name = Jerboa
fossil_range = Middle Miocene - Recent

image_width = 200px
image_caption = "Jaculus jaculus"
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Mammalia
ordo = Rodentia
superfamilia = Dipodoidea
familia = Dipodidae
familia_authority = Fischer de Waldheim, 1817
subdivision_ranks = Genera
subdivision = 10 genera in 5 subfamilies

Jerboas are the bulk of the membership of the family Dipodidae; they are small jumping desert rodents of Asia and northern Africa that resemble mice with a long tufted tail and very long hind legs. The small forelegs are not used for locomotion. In general, Asiatic jerboas have five toes on their hind feet and African jerboas have three; the shapes of their ears vary widely between species. Jerboa fur is long, soft and silky. Diet varies considerably: some are specialist seed, insect, or plant eaters, others are omnivores. Jerboas obtain energy by eating plants.

The English word jerboa may have been derived from the similar sounding Arabic word jerbu'a or Garbu'a (جربوع) or the Hebrew word yarboa (יַרְבּוֹעַ) which denote this animal.

The ancestors of the modern jerboas probably separated from the more generalised rodents about 8 million years ago on the arid plains of Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Mongolia, and then spread to Europe and northern Africa. With the exception of Europe, where they died out, this remains their current range.

Their ability to hop is presumed to be an adaptation to help them escape from predators, and perhaps to assist with the longer journeys a desert-living animal must make to find food. Although jerboas are not closely related to the hopping mice of Australia or the kangaroo rats of North America, all three groups have evolved a similar set of adaptations to life in the deep desert.

Jerboas are nocturnal. During the heat of the day, they shelter in burrows. They create four separate types of burrow: two temporary, and two permanent. The temporary burrows are plain tubes: those used to escape from predators during the night are just convert|10|to|20|cm|abbr=on deep, unsealed and not camouflaged; the permanent daytime burrows are well-hidden and sealed with a plug of sand to keep heat out and moisture in, and are convert|20|to|50|cm|abbr=on long.

Permanent burrows often have multiple entrances. They are much more elaborate structures with a nesting chamber. The winter burrows have food storage chambers convert|40|to|70|cm|abbr=on below ground level, and a hibernation chamber an astonishing convert|1.5|to|2.5|m|abbr=on down.

Perhaps the best-known species is the Lesser Egyptian Jerboa ("Jaculus jaculus") which occupies some of the most hostile deserts on the planet. It does not drink at all, relying on its food to provide enough moisture for survival. Found in both the sandy and stony deserts of north Africa, Arabia and Iran, this small creature aestivates (analogous to hibernation) during the hottest summer months, and has the ability to leap a full metre to escape a predator.

Three species are considered threatened: the Five-toed Pygmy Jerboa (classed 'VU' vulnerable), the Thick-tailed Pygmy Jerboa (classed 'VU' vulnerable), and a rare species only recently captured on film in the deserts of Mongolia and China, the Long-eared Jerboa (classed 'EN' endangered). Many other species have been placed in a "lower risk" category, and one species (Thomas's Pygmy Jerboa) lacks the data for assessment.


* Family Dipodidae
** Subfamily Zapodinae: jumping mice, 4 species in 3 genera
** Subfamily Sicistinae: birch mice
** Subfamily Cardiocraniinae
*** "Cardiocranius"
**** Five-toed Pygmy Jerboa, "Cardiocranius paradoxus"
*** "Salpingotus"
**** Thick-tailed Pygmy Jerboa, "Salpingotus crassicauda"
**** Heptner's Pygmy Jerboa, "Salpingotus heptneri"
**** Kozlov's Pygmy Jerboa, "Salpingotus kozlovi"
**** Baluchistan Pygmy Jerboa, "Salpingotus michaelis"
**** Pallid Pygmy Jerboa, "Salpingotus pallidus"
**** Thomas's Pygmy Jerboa, "Salpingotus thomasi"
** Subfamily Dipodinae
*** "Dipus"
**** Northern Three-toed Jerboa, "Dipus sagitta"
*** "Eremodipus"
**** Lichtenstein's Jerboa, "Eremodipus lichensteini"
*** "Jaculus"
**** Blanford's Jerboa, "Jaculus blanfordi"
**** Lesser Egyptian Jerboa, "Jaculus jaculus"
**** Greater Egyptian Jerboa, "Jaculus orientalis"
**** Turkmen Jerboa, "Jaculus turcmenicus"
*** "Stylodipus"
**** Andrews's Three-toed Jerboa, "Stylodipus andrewsi"
**** Mongolian Three-toed Jerboa, "Stylodipus sungorus"
**** Thick-tailed Three-toed Jerboa, "Stylodipus telum"
** Subfamily Euchoreutinae
*** "Euchoreutes"
**** Long-eared Jerboa, "Euchoreutes naso"
** Subfamily Allactaginae
*** "Allactaga
**** Balikun Jerboa, "Allactaga balikunica"
**** Gobi Jerboa, "Allactaga bullata"
**** Small Five-toed Jerboa, "Allactaga elater"
**** Euphrates Jerboa, "Allactaga euphratica"
**** Iranian Jerboa, "Allactaga firouzi"
**** Hotson's Jerboa, "Allactaga hotsoni"
**** Great Jerboa, "Allactaga major"
**** Svertzov's Jerboa, "Allactaga severtzovi"
**** Mongolian Five-toed Jerboa, "Allactaga sibirica"
**** Four-toed Jerboa, "Allactaga tetradactyla"
**** Vinogradov's Jerboa, "Allactaga vinogradovi"
**** Bobrinski's Jerboa, "Allactodipus bobrinskii"
*** "Pygeretmus"
**** Lesser Fat-tailed Jerboa, "Pygeretmus platyurus"
**** Dwarf Fat-tailed Jerboa, "Pygeretmus pumilo"
**** Greater Fat-tailed Jerboa, "Pygeretmus shitkovi"
** Subfamily Paradipodinae
*** "Paradipus"
**** Comb-toed Jerboa, "Paradipus ctenodactylus"

External links

* [ Long Eared Jerboa caught on film] BBC - retrieved 10th Dec 2007

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Jerboa — Jer*bo a, n. [Ar. yarb[=u] .] (Zo[ o]l.) Any small jumping rodent of the genus {Dipus}, esp. {Dipus [AE]gyptius}, which is common in Egypt and the adjacent countries. The jerboas have very long hind legs and a long tail. [Written also {gerboa}.]… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • jerboa — jerboá s. m. Trimis de siveco, 10.08.2004. Sursa: Dicţionar ortografic  JERBOÁ s. m. mamifer rozător, având labele picioarelor lungi, cu trei degete, care sare şi sapă galerii. (< lat. gerboa) Trimis de raduborza, 15.09.2007. Sursa: MDN …   Dicționar Român

  • Jerboa — Jerboa, so v.w. Gerboa …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Jerboa — Jerboa, s. Springmäuse …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • jerboa — (n.) small desert rodent, 1660s, Modern Latin, from Arabic jarbu flesh of the loins, also the name of a small jumping rodent of North Africa. Cf. GERBIL (Cf. gerbil) …   Etymology dictionary

  • jerboa — ► NOUN ▪ a desert dwelling rodent with very long hind legs found from North Africa to central Asia. ORIGIN Latin, from Arabic …   English terms dictionary

  • jerboa — [jər bō′ə] n. [Ar yarbūʼ] any of a family (Dipodidae) of small, nocturnal, leaping rodents of N Africa and Asia, with very long hind legs …   English World dictionary

  • jerboa — /jeuhr boh euh, jer /, n. any of various mouselike rodents of North Africa and Asia, as of the genera Jaculus and Dipus, with long hind legs used for jumping. [1655 65; < NL < Ar yarbu ; see GERBIL] * * * ▪ rodent Introduction       any of 33… …   Universalium

  • jerboa — /dʒɜˈboʊə / (say jer bohuh) noun 1. a small carnivorous marsupial Antechinomys laniger, which inhabits the central desert of Australia and resembles the jerboa (def. 2), although it does not hop; kultarr. 2. any of various mouse like rodents of… …  

  • jerboa — urvinis šokliukas statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas taksono rangas rūšis atitikmenys: lot. Alactagulus pygmaeus angl. jerboa; lesser five toed jerboa; little earth hare vok. Erdhase; Zwergpferdespringer; Zwergspringer rus. земляной зайчик;… …   Žinduolių pavadinimų žodynas

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