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Sculptures by Phyllis Bone

Feather Footed Jerboa, Dipus sagitta

Suborder Sciurognathi

Jerboas live in deserts or semidesert areas and dig burrows that shelter them from temperature fluctuations. Adapted for jumping, they have elongated hind limbs. The three main foot bones are fused into a single ‘cannon bone’ for greater strength. The outer toes are absent, having three toes on each hind foot. The jumping ability allows them to escape from predators. Jerboas have tufts of hair on the undersides of their hind feet to stop them slipping on soft sand and which help kick sand backwards when they burrow. The front feet are not used for movement and are used for gathering food. Their long tails are used as a prop when standing upright and as a balance when jumping.

Jerboas feed primarily on seeds, but will feed on succulent plants and insect larvae in underground galls: they do not drink water. Jerboas are nocturnal and have large eyes.