MNN Galleries

17 animals amazingly adapted to thrive in deserts

jeroba

Photo: reptiles4all/Shutterstock

8 of 18

Jerboa

This tiny kangaroo-like creature is the jerboa, a rodent native to desert climes across North Africa, China and Mongolia. Species of jerboa can be found from the Sahara, the hottest desert in the world, to the Gobi, one of the coldest deserts in the world. At either extreme, you can find a member of the jerboa family happily burrowing beneath the ground. By using burrowing systems, the jerboa can escape the extreme heat or cold. Its short forearms and powerful hind legs are made for digging, and it has folds of skin that can close off their nostrils to sand, as well as special hairs to keep sand from getting in its ears. Its long back legs are also made for traveling rapidly while using minimal energy. Jerobas can get all the water they need from the vegetation and insects they eat. In fact, in laboratory studies, jerboas have lived off of only dry seeds for up to three years.