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Giant Kangaroo Rat Dipodomys ingens


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Giant Kangaroo Rat
credit: United States Fish and Wildlife Service

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Family: Heteromyidae, Pocket Mice and Kangaroo Rats view all from this family

Description Largest of the kangaroo rats. Has a dusky-colored nose, whitish cheeks, and blackish eyelids. Lateral white stripes along the tail are only slightly narrower than the dorsal and ventral dark stripes. Has five toes on the hind feet. Tail tuft is dark in appearance because of a mix of pale and dark hairs.

Dimensions 312-348mm, 157-197mm, 93-195g

Endangered Status The Giant Kangaroo Rat is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as endangered in California. This species saw a rapid decline in the 1970s after the state of California completed several major water diversion and irrigation projects that resulted in a large swath of its habitat being converted to croplands. Urbanization and the use of insecticides have also contributed to this rodent's demise. It is not alone: 99 percent of California's grasslands have been modified by agricultural, industrial, and residential development over the last few centuries, and many grassland species have become endangered as a result. The Giant Kangaroo Rat was listed as endangered by the state of California in 1980 and by the federal government in 1987.

Habitat Deserts, Grasslands & prairies

Range California

Discussion This Endangered species is restricted to southwestern San Joaquin Valley and adjacent arid areas of the Inner Coastal ranges of California. Primarily nocturnal, they sometimes forage in the daylight, especially at dusk. Burrows are frequently remodeled by changing entrances. Uses sandy loamy soil on level and gently sloping ground vegetated with annual grasses and forbs and widely scattered shrubs from 200-800m.