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Pest Information

Kangaroo rat

  • Latin Name: Dipodomys spp.
  • Common Name: Kangaroo rat
  • Latin Family Name: Heteromyidae
  • Other Names: N/A

Pest Details


These are native animals in North America, with 22 species described, most of which are restricted to the western states.


There are 23 species of Kangaroo rats in the genus Dipodomys in North America, and can become serious problems for agriculture due to their habit of gathering large numbers of seeds and caching them for winter feeding. They are so thorough in their seed gathering that they can impact newly planted fields by digging up seeds, as well as removing seeds from grasses and reducing the crop for the next year. They will also feed somewhat on new sprouts of plants, clipping the plant off at the base. They do not hibernate, but may remain in their burrows when weather conditions are poor. They will breed throughout the warm months of the year with up to 3 broods per year and up to 6 young per brood. Breeding will be heaviest during wet periods and may drop to almost no breeding during periods of drought. They are nocturnal and will develop an intricate system of burrows below ground, favoring sandy soils. Within the burrows will be chambers for food storage, sleeping, and living quarters. They are well adapted for living in dry, sandy areas where they obtain their water from the seeds that they eat. They are solitary animals, but many kangaroo rats may be living in one area with intertwining burrow systems.


These rats are plump in appearance, with very large hind legs, very short front legs, and extremely long, thin tails that are covered with short hairs and with a tuft of longer hairs at the tip. The tail is dark on top and bottom but has white stripes on the sides that extend onto the body as a distinctly light-colored belly. Upper body color ranges from light tan to dark brown. Their size ranges from only about 6 inches long from nose to tip of tail, to 14 inches long in some of the large species in the Southwest.

Characteristicts Important to Control:

Generally speaking, kangaroo rats are not pest problems, although their consumption of seeds and vegetation may be unwanted. Some species are on the endangered or protected species listings, and care must be taken before attempting any control programs to ensure the proper identification is made. Zinc phosphide baits may be available in some areas, fumigation with aluminum phosphide may be possible, and trapping of small populations can be effective.

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