Posted in Science & Nature

Kangaroo Rat

Kangaroo rats are a type of rodent found in North American deserts. They are known for their extremely long and strong hind legs which they can use to hop great heights (up to nine feet), just like a kangaroo. But the most interesting feature of the kangaroo rat is its kidneys.
This tiny animal is known to be so efficient in using its water that it literally never has to drink water. By having extremely efficient kidneys, kangaroo rats gain sufficient water from metabolism, as water is made from oxidation of food naturally. This gives them a strong advantage in such a dry habitat.

Kangaroo rats have many more adaptations that aide their survival in their desert environment. They exhibit food-hoarding behaviour and can be often seen with their cheek pouches full of grains. As there is no pools of water, they roll in the sand to have sand baths like some birds. Being rodents, they are social and live in underground community tunnels to avoid the heat during the day.

When in danger, kangaroo rats hop on the spot and stamp their feet on the ground to send signals to nearby friends using the vibrations. Amazingly, they have been observed to even fight snakes in times of need, using sand to their advantage. By leaping back with their strong hind legs, kangaroo rats are capable of spraying sand at their enemy, irritating them and sometimes even damaging them. Furthermore, they show exemplary teamwork by attacking a predator together, biting and leaping back to continuously inflict damage. Because their legs are so well-developed, they are able to jump away from harm even if it is a snake striking at rapid speed.

Such adaptations in anatomy, physiology and behaviour allow the kangaroo rat to survive in an environment that can swiftly kill even a person.

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