Merriam's kangaroo rat
Body length: 5 - 6"
Diet: Seeds and some greens
Kangaroo rats are perfectly suited to desert life. Through behaviors and physiological processes which keep them from losing body moisture, they can survive without ever drinking fresh water. Small amounts of water are derived from foods such as seeds and green vegetation. Like many desert animals these rodents are almost entirely nocturnal, spending the day in burrows.
Though unrelated to kangaroos, kangaroo rats hop about on oversized hind feet, much like their Australian namesakes. Kangaroo rats also have pouches, though they are located in their cheeks, not bellies, and are used for carrying seeds, not babies. Merriam's kangaroo rats are uncommon at Tonto National Monument. They prefer relatively flat, sandy areas with little vegetation, as occur north of Route 188 near Roosevelt Lake.
Did You Know?
Tonto National Monument is home to a crested saguaro. Biologists disagree as to why some saguaros grow in this unusual form. Some speculate that it is a genetic mutation. Others say it is the result of lightning or freeze damage. About one in 150,000 saguaros develop this unusual growth.