Condor Watch Talk

Kangaroo Rat - (the shiny eyeball :)) a rare "Something Else" photo & info

  • wreness by wreness moderator

    After so many photos of seeing this little guy's eyeball shining as he/she darts around, here's some information on this interesting desert dweller! And yes, they're cute. 😃 Also called "Pocket mice" they are an endangered species (some people keep them as pets - they're "nice" animals and can be easily tamed) due to habitat loss.

    Pictured is a Stephen's kangaroo rat, possibly what we see on Condor Watch, but there are 22 species, mostly all which live in California (where the Condor Watch project's photos are from).

    Depending on the species they can range from from 1-6 ounces with a length (with tail) of 6-12 inches (15.24- 30.48cm). They stand 2-4" (5-10 cm) at the shoulder, standing on their hind legs like a kangaroo to take a look around.

    They eat seeds and grasses and due to an amazing biological process can convert the food they eat into water. They have specialized kidneys which allow them to dispose of waste materials with very little output of water and in fact can actually urinate crystals.

    Most Kangaroo Rats hop on their hind feet, using their tails for balance. Hence the name 😃 They can cover 6 feet (2m) with a hop but it's been said some have been measured covering 9 feet (3m)

    Kangaroo Rats are solitary animals with a home range of less than one-half acre; the female's home territory is usually smaller than the males. They live in narrow, shallow burrows that are shaped like an inverted U.

    They are a favorite meal of eagles, hawks, owls, snakes and coyotes.

    For more info and great photos see the San Diego Zoo's Blog here and also click our hashtag: #kangaroorat

    The San Diego Zoo is one of Condor Captive Breeding zoos - they have a Live Pen Cam and are part of this project.


  • G.Haldursson by G.Haldursson

    Just found this guy in another photo near The Cage ( ACW0002tlf ) and searched our archives for the photos we have so far. This is the best photo we have, I think, showing the long tail and body. ACW0001d1c

    They are quite brave, seeing as the coyotes and owls, all of whom I expect are close to the feeding sites, love kangaroo rats. I know from experience you don't hear an owl until it's literally on top of you (and have a scar on my head to prove this) 😃


  • wreness by wreness moderator in response to G.Haldursson's comment.

    That is a great pic of his whole body - here's a large photo.

    I read that people keep them as pets (they call them "pocket mice"). Wonder how you'd get one if you don't live out there? Anyone want to take a road trip? 😄


  • vjbakker by vjbakker scientist

    I have live-trapped K-rats in California as part of small mammal monitoring projects. They are mellow and relatively easy the handle and super cute. There are smaller species in the same family (Heteromyidae) called pocket mice. I believe the name comes from the fur lined cheek pouches or "pockets" used for transporting seeds, but I have found them cold in the morning after a night in the trap and put them in my shirt pocket to warm up. It just seemed like the eponymous thing to do 😃.


  • wreness by wreness moderator in response to G.Haldursson's comment. I need to know why you got attacked by an owl. I wasn't going to ask, but truly, you have to know it's a bit rare to know someone who has a scar from an owl attack. Do tell, please. Only if you'd like.

    All "I was attacked by a vicious animal" stories welcome by all. I know you Outdoorsy Types are out there! 😃


  • wreness by wreness moderator in response to vjbakker's comment.

    Well, I want one. Badly now, that you've made them sound extra adorable. I wonder if I could get one back on a plane? Don't know if that's transporting wildlife. Or K-rat kidnapping. I have a relative out there who would house me long enough to bribe one into coming back to the Big City with me. Hm ..😃