The diet of the dusky hopping mouse consists mainly of vegetation such as berries, seeds and leaves, although it has been known to also occasionally eats insects (2) (3). Unusually for a mammal, the dusky hopping mouse does not need water to survive; instead it is able obtain the water it needs from its food, an adaptation that is immensely useful for a life in the desert (8). The dusky hopping mouse reproduces opportunistically with no apparent seasonality, producing litters of around one to five young, often after good rainfall (3). The gestation period of this species is between 37 and 42 days and the young are able to open their eyes at between 18 and 24 days (2). During pregnancy, the sebaceous glandular area of female dusky hopping mice becomes active and is thought to be involved in territorial marking and marking of the newborn young. The males’ glands are active at all times (2).
The dusky hopping mouse lives in burrows which are dug on the flat tops of sand dunes (9). These burrows consist of a single tunnel with up to six ventilation shafts and a nest of vegetation placed in the main tunnel (2). These burrows are a key part of their social system. Groups of around five individuals live in each burrow (3), often with burrows being interlinked to one another (2), and the mice work together socially in the construction and maintenance of the burrow. For instance, if one mouse finds that the entrance to a shaft is blocked by sand it will emit squeaks to notify others inside who will come to assist in its removal. The daytime is spent resting in these burrows (2), but at night the dusky hopping mouse ventures out to forage, although it makes sure it stays within a few metres of the safety of the burrow (3). Normally, to minimise wasting energy, the dusky hopping mouse walks in an awkward gait on all fours or uses small hops. However, if it senses danger it will use its powerful hind legs to bound away rapidly (2) (5).