Jaculus – Desert Jerboas

Hoping at night in Old World's desert and semi-arid habitats

This genus encompasses four distinct species, namely Blanford’s jerboa (Jaculus blanfordi), the Lesser Egyptian jerboa (Jaculus jaculus), Thaler’s jerboa (Jaculus thaleri), and the African hammada jerboa (Jaculus orientalis). These species are uniquely equipped to thrive in their challenging habitats, demonstrating a variety of adaptations that enable them to survive and flourish under extreme conditions.

Jerboas belonging to the genus Jaculus are small to medium-sized rodents, notable for their long hind legs, which allow them to hop at considerable speeds and distances. This mode of locomotion is not only a remarkable adaptation to evade predators but also an efficient way to cover large areas in search of food and water in their sparse desert environments. Their long tails aid in balancing while hopping and serve as a prop when they stand upright. The fur of these rodents is typically sandy or earth-toned, providing excellent camouflage against the desert backdrop, further enhancing their survival prospects.

Extreme temperatures, scarce water, and limited vegetation characterize the habitats of Jaculus species. Yet, these resilient creatures have developed behavioral and physiological adaptations to overcome such harsh living conditions. For example, they are nocturnal, meaning they are active at night, which helps them avoid the extreme heat of the daytime. During the day, they take refuge in burrows that maintain a more stable and cooler temperature. Their diet primarily consists of seeds, plants, and occasionally insects, which they have adapted to metabolize efficiently, minimizing their need for water.