Also known as Wagner's dipodil or the rough-tailed dipodil (4), Wagner’s gerbil is a medium-sized and slender rodent with a silky coat (5). The hair on the upperparts of Wagner’s gerbil is sandy-brown in colour and grey at the base, and the underside is white (6). The tail is covered in short, coarse hairs, apart from the tip which possesses a tuft of finer hair. Two subspecies are recognised: Gerbillus dasyurusdasyurus and Gerbillus dasyurus leosollicitus. G. d. leosollicitus is typically the darker of the two subspecies, although the colour of the fur varies in accordance to its precise habitat, providing optimum camouflage (2). Male Wagner’s gerbils are generally larger and heavier than females (7).
Wagner’s gerbil is a nocturnal, burrowing rodent (1), with a varied diet that includes insects, seeds, succulent plants and herbs (2). Unlike other gerbil species, Wagner’s gerbil also has an astonishing preference for snails (8), and snail shells often litter the surrounds of the burrow (9). Wagner’s gerbil has a fascinating way of communicating with other members of the same species, making sounds by kicking the ground with its hind feet (3).
The breeding season of Wagner’s gerbil typically falls between January and September (3), but can extend to November (7). Approximately three litters, of between three and nine young, are produced each year (3), born after a gestation period of 18 to 26 days (2)(7). Born blind, naked and with closed ears, young Wagner’s gerbils only begin to grow hair at six days old and open their eyes and ears at around 16 days. Weaning takes place at 32 days after birth and pups become independent from their mothers when they are around five weeks old (3). Both sexes have a lifespan of up to two and a half years (7).
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