When a rat enters your room, the first instinct is to scream, then try to chase away the ugly, huge rodent. But that is something that needs no worry in the case of these creatures, for not only are they tiny, they are rare to be found.
Ever Heard of the Jerboa?
In fact, the Baluchistan Pygmy Jerboas are considered to be the smallest rodent in the world. The salpingotulus michaelis is a rodent species from the Dipodidae familia. It is the only species in the genus salpingotulus. In the 1999 Guinness Book of records, the Pygmy Jerboas tied with the African Pygmy mouse as the smallest rodent in the world.
This rodent is around 1.7 inches (4.4 cm) in body length, with its tail alone being almost 3 inches (8 cm) long with white end tuff, making it longer than the body. But the tiny body doesn’t hold it back, for they can jump up to over 9 feet, according to the World Wildlife Fund. The colour of the fur matches with the colour of their environment, providing camouflage, so it’s usually beige, yellow or brown in color.
Pygmy Jerboa has a mouse-like head with large eyes and whiskers and small ears. As they live in the desert, a small flap of skin is present to prevent sand from entering their ears and nose. Their hind legs, which are designed for hopping, are four times larger than their short front feet. Its back legs have five toes, but the middle three are fused. That, and the fact that the Baluchistan Pygmy Jerboas are the smallest of the 33 species of the Jerboas gave them the name “the dwarf three-toed jerboa”.
The Pygmy Jerboas are considered endemic to Pakistan, and found in certain parts of Afghanistan, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Due to its rare sightings, it is said that they were captured and sold from Baluchistan by the British as exotic creatures. They are nocturnal and active at night. They live in burrows under the shrubs during the summer and near the mountains during the rainy season to avoid getting flooded.
During extreme conditions, the Pygmy Jerboa goes under facultative hypothermia. That’s when the respiration and blood circulation in their bodies dramatically slow down. This helps the creatures survive on a low nutritional diet. Otherwise, their diet usually consists of windblown seeds and succulent leaves of the desert vegetation. They also feed on small insects and roots, from which they extract the water to quench their thirst. They don’t usually drink from direct sources of water. These jerboas are mainly hunted down by the leaf-nosed viper, the trans-caspian lizard, and the sand cat.
Pygmy Jerboas breed two or three times a year. The mating season is during the summer. The female gives birth to two to six litters. They are naked without fur and blind at the time of birth, which is during the spring and summer months. They won’t be able to jump until 11 weeks after birth. The Pygmy Jerboas can live upto 6 years.