Stephens’ kangaroo rat is thought to give birth to one litter per year containing between one and six young. Up to three litters may be usually produced under favourable conditions, but during droughts no young may be born (1) (3) (4). The young are born in late spring or early summer, or sometimes even later (1) (2) (3), and are weaned after 18 to 22 days (4). Young females are occasionally known to reproduce by the end of their first summer (1) (3).
The diet of Stephens’ kangaroo rat is mainly composed of forb seeds (3), with insects and herbaceous vegetation also likely to be taken (1). Kangaroo rats transport both food and nesting materials in pouches on the inside of the cheeks, and this material is then retrieved using the forefeet. Water is obtained through the kangaroo rat’s diet, although the water requirements of most Dipodomys species are very low due to their highly efficient kidneys (4). Kangaroo rats use sand and dust bathing to clean and groom the fur (3) (4).
Stephens’ kangaroo rat is nocturnal and lives a mainly subterranean lifestyle, only appearing above ground for around one hour per night (2) (3). Burrows may be constructed by the rat itself or it may utilise the old burrows of pocket gophers (Geomyidae species) or California ground squirrels (Otospermophilus beecheyi) (1). The burrows of Stephens’ kangaroo rat are usually around 45 centimetres deep (3). Very little is known of the social behaviour of this solitary species (3), although it is known that most kangaroo rats are highly territorial, with only a single individual occupying a burrow (4).
Predators of Stephens’ kangaroo rat include barn owls (Tyto alba), long-eared owls (Asio otus) (2), foxes, coyotes and feral and domestic cats (3).