Kangaroo Rat with brown fur

11 amazing facts about Kangaroo Rat

What is a Kangaroo Rat?

The combination of the names ‘Kangaroo’ and ‘rat’ for a particular creature sounds a bit weird or rather hilarious to the ear. You might wonder if this creature shares both features of a Kangaroo and a Rat. It would be amazing if it did. Despite its name and mouse-like appearance, the Kangaroo rat is neither a rat nor a mouse.

What family does it belong to?

The Kangaroo rat is a part of the Heteromyidae family – the pocket gopher. 

Amazing facts about Kangaroo Rat
Image Credits: Sheri Amsel, www.exploringnature.org

The Kangaroo rat gets its name as it moves in a bipedal fashion – hopping along on its hind legs like a kangaroo but cultivated this mode of locomotion unaided, like many other clades of rodents (e.g. dipodids and hopping mice).

Kangaroo rat is a species of rat that is classified under the group of desert rodents. 20 kangaroo rat species are native to North America.

Kangaroo rats inhabit dry, arid and semi-arid habitats such as deserts, sandy and rocky areas.

They can also dwell in habitats such as grasslands and scrublands, located at several altitudes. 

A major threat to the existence of kangaroo rats is the loss of habitat due to intensified human activity. This can make kangaroo rats extinct in the near tomorrow.

Certain species known as giant kangaroo rats are documented as endangered due to these increased human activities.

What is the largest Kangaroo rat species?

The giant kangaroo rat, is the largest of over 20 species of kangaroo rats, which are small members of the rodent family, scaling about 15 cm (5.9 in) in length, containing its long, tufted tail. It is tan or brown.

The other species of the kangaroo rats have large eyes, a big-sized head, and a long, stable hind leg which helps them to hop faster.

Kangaroo rats are in no way as big as Kangaroo.

What is the best time for the Kangaroo rats to mate?

Kangaroo rat wallows in the sand to remove dirt and keep its fur clean. They mate in the summer, after the season of heavy rains. Kangaroo rats have a promiscuous mating system.

Their reproductive output is at the peak during the summer due to high rainfalls. During droughts and food shortages, only a few females will spawn.

It seems kangaroo rats can examine their local situations and tailor their reproductive undertakings accordingly.

What month do Kangaroo rats breed?

Kangaroo rats breed between February and May and give birth to two or three litters per year. Before they mate, the male and female will execute nasal-anal circling until the female halts and permits the male to clamber her.

A Kangaroo rat female will permit several males to clamber her within a short period, maybe to guarantee greater opportunities for producing offspring. This is intelligent behavior from this little creature.

Mating in banner-tailed kangaroo rats comprises more chasing and foot drumming in the male before the female permits him to mate. Banner-tailed kangaroo rats mate on mounds and the healthier males drive away competing males.

The kangaroo rats have a range gestation period of 22–27 days. The young Kangaroo rat is given birth in a fur-lined nest in the burrows. They come out blind and without hair.

Kangaroo Rat running
Kangaroo Rat

For the first week after delivery, young kangaroo rats crawl formulating their hind legs in their second or third week after delivery. At this time, the young kangaroo rat becomes independent.

A banner-tailed kangaroo rat stops depending on his mum after 22 and 25 days. Offspring stay in the mound for 1-6 more months in the maternal caches.

Like every other creature, kangaroo rats have distinct features that form certain facts about them.

Below are 11 amazing facts about Kangaroo rats, we bet you didn’t know!

Kangaroo Rat with brown fur
Kangaroo Rat

1. Kangaroo rats have varying sizes.

The size of a kangaroo rat depends on the species. Some usually gain weight of about 4.5 ounces and a length of about 3.5 to 5.5 inches. Kangaroo rats possess a long tail of about 5.5 to 6.5 inches. Their tails are usually bigger than their entire body and this helps them maintain balance while they hop around.

2. The color of the fur depends on the species and the habitat.

Kangaroo rats are covered with either beige, grey, cinnamon, or brown fur. This color variation suggests that it provides camouflage against predators. The belly of a kangaroo rat is usually white.

3. They use whiskers as the receptive organ to protect themselves from predators.

Kangaroo rats have a big sized head, large eyes, and small ears. Their whiskers act as the receptive organ which recognizes the vibration of the ground. This makes them sensitive to every strange signal around and informs them on when to take cover against predators.

4. Kangaroo rat is tailored to live in arid conditions.

Their kidneys give off very dense urine with a minimal quantity of water. This makes it possible for them to survive in environments where water is scarce. Also, their body temperature surpasses outer temperature, which deters loosing of water through sweating.

5. Kangaroo rats possess short front feet and long hind feet.

These features are designed for hopping just like kangaroos do. They can hop a distance of 9 feet in a single bounce. This gives them the advantage of escaping any danger quickly from their habitat. The long tail is employed for maintaining balance.

6. Kangaroo rats make use of cheek pouch to ferry the food to the burrow.

They go out to forage for their food. The other food will be eaten when normal food is in short supply.

7. Kangaroo rats primarily feed on seeds and desert beans.

They sometimes consume various insects.

8. Kangaroo rat is a nocturnal creature.

Because they are more active at night, this is another adaption to live in a very hot habitat.

9. Kangaroo rat makes use of its front paws to excavate subsurface burrows.

They are extremely complex and comprise chambers for living, storing food, and nursing the babies.

10. Kangaroo rat is an isolated creature that inhabits a territory of 200 to 300 feet.

Feet-drumming is employed to disclose the occupation of the territory. Kangaroo rats sometimes assemble in large colonies of several hundred other kangaroo rats.

11. Kangaroo rats are often threatened by predators such as owls, badgers, coyotes, foxes, and weasels.


Looking at all the facts about Kangaroo rats, we can say that this desert rodent requires a certain humidity and temperature for survival and therefore, cannot make a good pet. In case, you still plan to get one remember it’s a wild animal and would require special care and a cage to live.

Also, Check out these 11 amazing facts about Baby Raccoon you never knew before.

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