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Jerboas

( Originally Published 1936 )

These animals are distinguished by their short fore-legs and long hind-legs, which enable them to take enormous leaps, like the kangaroo. The tail is very long, and either hairy throughout or tufted at the end.

Jerboa (Dipus AEgypticus)

This species is the best known of the Jerboas, and is common in North Africa and Western Asia. It is about eight inches in length, without the tail, which is longer than the body and tufted towards the end. It walks on all-fours, but in feeding sits up, using the fore-paws to lift food to its mouth. When about to take one of its flying leaps, the fore-legs are pressed so closely to the body that they can hardly be seen. The colour is pale yellowish-grey, whiter towards the extremity of the body, the tuft of the tail black, with the extreme tip white. See Plate 18, Fig. 86. The Jerboa has three toes on the hind feet, on the under side of which are thick elastic pads, and five toes on the fore-feet. It feeds on roots and other vegetable substances, and its large colonies live in burrows in the sandy soil of the deserts.

Cape Jumping Hare (Pedetes caffer)

This animal is considerably larger than the pre-ceding, measuring about a foot in length, the tail, which is clothed with hair throughout, being longer than the body, and black towards the tip. It is reddish-brown above and pale grey beneath, and has five toes, armed with strong claws, on the front feet, but only four on the hind feet. See Plate 18, Fig. 87. It is a common burrowing animal in South Africa, and large colonies are found in rocky places, sleeping during the day and coming out to feed at night. It often ' inflicts during its night-raids considerable in-jury on the crops of the settlers. The ears are long, like a rabbit's, and its fore-paws are used to convey food to its mouth. When alarmed, the Cape Jumping Hare makes its escape by a succession of immense bounds, flying twenty to thirty feet at every leap.



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