Tuesday 21 May
Greater Egyptian jerboa (Jaculus orientalis)
What’s the World’s Favourite Species?Find out here.
Greater Egyptian jerboa fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Greater Egyptian jerboa description
The greater Egyptian jerboa has extremely long, kangaroo-like hind legs and feet, but comparatively tiny forelegs, which bear well developed claws and are used for sifting through sand to look for food (2). It has a pale sandy coloured coat and a long tail with a tuft of fur at the end (4), and large eyes and ears that enable it to detect fast movement and avoid predators. The greater Egyptian jerboa moves using just the two hind limbs (5), employing a hopping motion that enables the jerboa to move at fast speeds, while using minimal amounts of energy. This is owed to the spring-like mechanism of the legs, with the tendons and muscles storing elastic energy from previous jumps, greatly reducing the energy required for high speed movement (6). This mode of locomotion is thought to have evolved in response to jerboas occupying areas of low food availability and few natural shelters, making the conservation of energy and the ability to quickly escape predators vital (5).Top
Greater Egyptian jerboa biology
A sociable animal, often found in small groups, the greater Egyptian jerboa is herbivorous, foraging for food throughout the night. Its diet consists of roots, shoots, leaves, and seeds of a variety of both wild and cultivated plants (1). It avoids the exhausting heat of the summer by spending the daytime in cool underground burrows (3), and survives the cold and resource-scarce winter months by hibernating (7).
Jerboas construct at least four different types of burrow of varying depths. These range from ten centimetre deep burrows, used to shelter from predators during the night, to burrows that measure over 220 centimetres deep for hibernation during winter (2).
Mating occurs shortly after emergence from hibernation (2). Compared to other rodents, jerboas have a long gestation period (six weeks) and weaning period, and do not become bipedal until around seven weeks after birth. Until this stage, the young jerboa moves slowly, using only the short forelegs to drag the trunk and hind-legs forward (8).Top
Greater Egyptian jerboa range
The greater Egyptian jerboa occurs in North Africa (in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt) and in Israel. It is most abundant and widespread in Algeria (1).Top
Greater Egyptian jerboa habitat
The greater Egyptian jerboa has a tolerance of a wide range of habitats, and has been found to occupy desert, coastal sand dunes, inland bogs and marshes, meadows, and cultivated land. It occupies altitudes from sea level to 600 metres in Israel, and far greater elevations in Africa (1). This species is able to survive in areas characterised by scarce water supplies and extreme temperatures, ranging from 45 degrees Celsius in summer to below freezing in winter (3).Top
Greater Egyptian jerboa status
Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).Top
Greater Egyptian jerboa threats
There are no major threats to this species, which is fairly widespread and common. However, it is killed by farmers in some areas, as it is considered a pest of certain crops (1), and this species suffers from a fairly high rate of infection from the parasite Isospora orientali, with nearly 70 percent of individuals infected in Egypt. Infection results in decreased food and water intake, and an increase in mortality (9).Top
Greater Egyptian jerboa conservation
There are currently no direct actions in place to protect the species, due to its non-threatened status, but it has been found in a number of protected areas (1).Top
Checked (24/08/10) by Dr Francis Gilbert, Associate Professor, University of Nottingham.
- The ability to walk on two hind limbs, rather than all four limbs.
- The state of being pregnant; the period from conception to birth.
- Having a diet that comprises only vegetable matter.
- A winter survival strategy characteristic of some mammals in which an animal’s metabolic rate slows down and a state of deep sleep is attained. Whilst hibernating, animals survive on stored reserves of fat that they have accumulated in summer.
IUCN Red List (April, 2010)
- Anderson, S. and Jones, J.K. (1967) Recent Mammals of the World. The Ronald Press Company, New York.
- Hooper, E.T. and El Hilali, M. (1972) Temperature regulation and habits in two species of Jerboa, genus Jaculus. Journal of Mammology, 53: 574-593.
- Morris, D. (1965) The Mammals. Hodder and Stoughton, London.
- Rogovin, K.A. (1999) On the origin of bipedal locomotion in rodents (ecological correlates of jerboa's bipedal hopping). Zoologichesky Zhurnal, 78: 228-239.
- Taylor, C.R. (1985) Force development during sustained locomotion: A determinant of gait, speed and metabolic power. Journal of Experimental Biology, 115: 253-262.
- El Hilali, M. and Veillat J.P. (1975) Jaculus orientalis: a true hibernator. Mammalia, 39: 401-404.
- Eilam, D. and Shefer, G. (1997) The developmental order of bipedal locomotion in the jerboa (Jaculus orientalis) pivoting, creeping, quadrupedalism, and bipedalism. Developmental Psychobiology, 31: 137-142.
- Fayed, H.M. (2004) Developmental stages of pathogenicity of Isospora orientali sp. nov. (Apicomplexa, Eimeriidae) infecting the greater Egyptian jerboa Jaculus orientalis (Erxleben, 1777) (Rodentia, Myomorpha, Dipodidae): a light microscopic study. Journal of the Egyptian German Society of Zoology, 43: 61-85.
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.