Iranian Jerboa
(Allactaga firouzi)
DD
Overview
The Iranian jerboa resembles a mouse with a long tufted tail and very long hind legs. It is remarkably well adapted for jumping and can leap up to three metres in a single bound. Very little is known about the life history of this rodent as it is known from only a single, small population living on a mountain steppe in southern Iran. This small population is thought to be threatened by habitat destruction and degradation brought about by human activities.
Urgent Conservation Actions
No official conservation recommendations have been made for this species.
Distribution
Southern Iran.
Evolutionary Distinctiveness
Order: Rodentia
Family: Dipodidae
The family Dipodidae (birch mice, jumping mice and jerboas) contains 51 living species in 16 genera. Species in this family are generally characterised by their remarkable adaptations for jumping, which are thought to have evolved as a way to escape predators in open country. It is interesting to note that the unrelated hopping mice of Australia and the kangaroo rats of North America have evolved similar adaptations in response to similar environmental conditions (an example of convergent evolution). Fossil members of the Dipodidae are known from the Oligocene (26-38 million years ago). The Iranian jerboa belongs to the genus Allactaga, which contains 10 other species in northern Africa and Asia.
Description
Size: 
Head and body length: approx. 90-263 mm
Tail length: approx. 142-308 mm
Hind foot length: approx. 46-98 mm
Weight: Unknown
The jerboa is a small jumping rodent that resembles a mouse with a long tufted tail and very long hind legs. These adaptations mean that the jerboa is remarkably well adapted for jumping. The hind legs are at least four times longer than the front legs, and the long tail serves as a balancing organ. The soft, velvety fur is reddish-brown and black mixed with sandy and greyish-buff, resembling the colour of the ground in which it burrows. The underparts are whitish and there is a white stripe on the hip. The eyes, like those of most nocturnal animals, are relatively large. The ears are long and slender, and are about the same length as the head. The species has five digits on each hind foot. The sole of the hind foot has a tuft of stiff hairs, which acts as a friction pad to support the animal on loose sand.
Ecology
Jerboas are primarily nocturnal rodents spending most of the daylight hours in underground burrows which they dig themselves. During the hottest part of the year they plug the entrances of their burrows to keep the heat out and the moisture in. Most species are primarily vegetarian, eating seeds and the succulent parts of plants. They appear to obtain all of their water from these foods. Many jerboa species becomes dormant during the winter. They are generally solitary animals, except for females with their young. Females can give birth to around two litters per year.
Habitat
The only known population of this species was found in an area of flat plain with gravel substrate and sparse mountain steppe vegetation.
Distribution
The species is known only from one locality in southern Iran.
Population Estimate
Unknown.
Status
Classified as Critically Endangered (CR B1+2c, C1) on the 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Threats
The species appears to have an extremely restricted range, and is at risk from habitat loss and degradation caused by human activities.
Conservation Underway
There do not appear to be any conservation measures in place for this species.
Conservation Proposed
No official conservation recommendations have been made for this species.
References
Baillie, J. 1996. Allactaga firouzi. In: IUCN 2006. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 09 August 2006.

MacDonald, D. (ed.). 2002. The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press. Oxford.

Nowak, R.M. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World. Sixth edition. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London.

Distribution map based on data provided by the IUCN Global Mammal Assessment.

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