Merriam's kangaroo rat
Dipodomys merriami

Everybody was …

These animals are like martial arts masters. They react to predators with incredible speed, using their keen senses and powerful feet of fury. Striking snakes? Kangaroo rats have been observed kicking away snakes in mid-strike with lightning-fast reflexes! Owls overhead? The owl’s flight may be silent to most animals, but kangaroo rat ears detect even the slightest of sounds. If all else fails, they can also kick sand and bound up to 9 feet in the air to escape! Make no mistake, these animals must take care around predators, but their physical prowess gives them an edge over many other rodents.


One for the Road

Isn’t it great to have pockets? It’s so convenient to be able to safely store an important item right there on your person. Many of us get frustrated when our clothing choice is inadequate in the pocket department. Kangaroo rats never have to deal with that problem! These lucky critters are equipped with specialized fur-lined pockets right there on the outside of their cheeks. They can store seeds in their pouches, giving them access to a mobile food cache. That gives new meaning to the phrase “stuffing your face,” eh?


Liquid is Overrated

Think about how many times you’ve had to take a drink this week, or even just today. Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to worry about all that hydration business? Enter the kangaroo rat. These fascinating mammals get all of the water they need from the moisture content in their food. They also keep moisture from escaping their bodies by limiting the time they spend above ground to the most humid parts of the day. They’ll still take a drink every now and then if the opportunity presents itself, but it’s rarely necessary.

Diet: seeds, plants, occasional insects

Zoo Diet: formulated feed, starch, fruits, veggies, greens

Habitat: deserts, grasslands, dry woodlands

Weight: 1.4 – 1.8 oz

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The Phoenix Zoo is one of the largest non-profit zoos in the U.S., caring for over 3,000 animals, with nearly 400 species represented, including many threatened/endangered species.