The Libyan jird is well adapted to the desert environment. Able to extract water efficiently from its food, it also minimises water loss by not sweating, and by producing dry faeces and concentrated urine (4). However, unlike many jird and gerbil species, which emerge from the burrow only at night, the Libyan jird may also be active during the day (2) (3) (5) (7). The diet consists mainly of plant material, including seeds, leaves, roots, bulbs and fruit, as well as occasional insects such as locusts (3) (4) (5). The jird often returns to the burrow to eat, and impressive quantities of food, sometimes as much as 10 kilograms of seed, may be stored within chambers inside the burrow (3) (4), which itself may be more than 1.5 metres deep and radiate outwards several metres in a series of tunnels (3).
The Libyan jird is reported to be solitary in some areas, but to form small colonies in others (2) (3), communicating with a range of vocalisations and with thumping of the hind feet (3). A highly mobile species, it frequently changes burrows or even migrates if foraging conditions deteriorate (1). There is little information available on the breeding behaviour of this species, but, like other jirds, it is likely to breed year round in some areas, or during the cooler winter and spring months or after rainfall in others (2) (3) (4) (5). The female may produce two to three litters a year in favourable conditions (3) (4). As in the related Sundevall’s jird (8), the female may give birth to around 3 to 7 young, after a gestation period of up to 31 days (3). The young are born naked, blind and helpless, and are dependent on the female until the fur is grown and the eyes open at around two weeks. Young jirds reach sexual maturity between two to six months old (4).