The long-eared jerboa is a nocturnal, jumping rodent that feeds mainly on insects, and lives in the Gobi desert of southern Mongolia and northern China.
IUCN Red List classification
The long-eared jerboa is an incredibly adaptable animal, as it lives in extremely harsh conditions, with temperatures in the Gobi desert falling as low as -40°C in winter, and rising as high as +40°C in summer. Its huge ears may help it to cool down in the hot summer months when it is active. In winter, the species most likely hibernates in burrows underground. The long-eared jerboa is the subject of a ZSL conservation project as an EDGE mammals focal species.
- The long-eared jerboa is thought to have one of the largest ear to body ratios of any mammal: their ears are two-thirds the size of their body which is the equivalent of a human adult having ears over a metre long!
- The long ears of the jerboa may be an adaptation to desert life, allowing the animal to cool its blood more easily in the hot Gobi desert summer.
- Jerboas are small jumping rodents that resemble mice with long tufted tails and very long hindlegs.
- Whereas most species of jerboa are mainly herbivorous, eating plants and seeds, the long-eared jerboa eat mainly insects and other invertebrates.
- The video shot in 2007 by ZSL and NUM scientists was the first ever recorded footage of this animal. Watch the video
The long-eared jerboa is an EDGE mammal focal species as a result of its uniqueness and its high risk of extinction. At present our EDGE fellow, Uuganbadrakh Oyunkhishig, along with the rest of the Steppe Forward Programme team out in Mongolia, are discovering new, interesting facts about the distribution, ecology, and behaviour of this fascinating animal.
As a result of a Steppe Forward Programme expedition in 2007, we captured the first ever video footage of the long-eared jerboa. This video was one of the most watched on the BBC website that year. Watch the video
Watch this ZSL video to find out more about this fascinating animal: