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Brief Summary

    Bushy-tailed jird: Brief Summary
    provided by wikipedia

    The bushy-tailed jird or bushy-tailed dipodil (Sekeetamys calurus) is a species of rodent in the family Muridae. It is the only species in the genus Sekeetamys. It is found in Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan. Its natural habitat is rocky areas.

Comprehensive Description

Distribution

    Distribution
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Sekeetamys calurus prefer arid regions such as South-East Israel, eastern Egypt, Jordan, Sinai, and in the vicinity of Riyadh in central Saudi Arabia.

    Biogeographic Regions: palearctic (Native )

Morphology

    Morphology
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Sekeetamys calurus can be separated from their gerbil relatives by the color of their coats. The fur is a yellowish, reddish color that is flecked with black hairs. There is a distinct line when the dorsal fur meets the ventral fur. The ventral fur is crisp white. The ears are grey and sometimes have white hairs behind them. The hind feet of bushy-tailed jirds have naked soles that aid in gripping and climbing rocky surfaces. Bushy-tailed jirds are known for their bushy tails, which are brownish grey with white tips. The tails are covered with long hairs that stand out, creating a feather-like effect, thus making the tails bushy. Males have especially full and prominent tails. Young S. calurus appear to have fuller, softer fur.

    Sekeetamys calurus have low metabolic rates, 47% of the expected BMR for rodents their size. A low BMR is probably an adaptation to their arid environment.

    Range mass: 45 to 90 g.

    Average mass: 64 g.

    Range length: 9.8 to 12.8 cm.

    Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

    Sexual Dimorphism: male more colorful; ornamentation

    Average basal metabolic rate: 0.274 W.

Habitat

    Habitat
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Arid and rocky environments make the best homes for S. calurus. To avoid heat exhaustion, bushy-tailed jirds burrow in rocky terrain under edges of rocks and boulders. Sekeetamys calurus have adapted to their rocky environments by becoming good climbers. Bushy-tailed jirds are nocturnal and very active at night.

    Range elevation: 90 to 1200 m.

    Average elevation: 300 m.

    Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

    Terrestrial Biomes: desert or dune

Trophic Strategy

    Trophic Strategy
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Bushy-tailed jirds are omnivores. Depending on the environment, S. calurus diets may vary greatly. In the wild, bushy-tailed jirds prefer seeds, insects, herbs, and small bushes. Sekeetamys calurus cache their food, especially in the presence of potential competitors such as Acomys russatus. In captivity, members of this species will accept seeds, vegetables, fruits, and commercialized rat and gerbil food. It is recommended to keep lettuce and citrus fruits to a minimum. Sekeetamys calurus need to have a high protein diet. In captivity, lime blocks are necessary for nutrition as well as for play. Bushy-tailed jirds also prey on live food, such as mealworms.

    Animal Foods: insects; terrestrial worms

    Plant Foods: leaves; seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit

    Foraging Behavior: stores or caches food

    Primary Diet: omnivore

Associations

    Associations
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Sekeetamys calurus are found in arid regions where not many other mammals dwell. However, research has been done on the competition between bushy-tailed jirds, S. calurus, and golden spiny mice. Under the right circumstances, the two species compete for nesting sites and materials, as well as food. Sekeetamys calurus are found to be dominant, perhaps as a result of their protection of their food stores and nesting materials. Predators such as hyraxes and several kinds of foxes rely on this species. Bushy-tailed jirds are omnivores, feeding on insects when they are available. They also gather and cache seeds, perhaps dispersing them.

    When kept as laboratory specimens, bushy-tailed jirds are susceptible to several different strains of viruses and bacteria, as well as mites. There is no information confirming that S. calurus are affected by these health factors in the wild.

    Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds

    Associations
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    The main predators are desert foxes, but they also fall victim to hyraxes. Remains of S. calurus have been found in some owl pellets. Snakes inhabiting arid regions may also prey upon bushy-tailed jirds, although no evidence was found. When S. calurus feel threatened they thump their feet to scare the predator and warn others. If that tactic does not succeed, they attempt to outrun their predator.

    Known Predators:

    • rock hyraxes (Procavia capensis)
    • Ruppel's foxes (Vulpes rueppelli)
    • pale foxes (Vulpes pallida)
    • fennecs (Vulpes zerda)

    Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic

Behavior

    Behavior
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Bushy-tailed jirds are not highly vocal. When they are vocal, it is usually because they have been injured or feel severely threatened. Most communication is done through foot thumping. Sekeetamys calurus thump their feet loudly when they sense danger or when they become sexually excited. Another form of communication that bushy-tailed jirds use is scent marking. There are small scent glands on the ventral sides of their bodies. Sekeetamys calurus rub their bellies on everything that they consider their property, including territory and family members. Each animal has its own distinct scent that distinguishes its property from that of any other S. calurus.

    Communication Channels: acoustic ; chemical

    Other Communication Modes: scent marks ; vibrations

    Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

Life Expectancy

    Life Expectancy
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    There is a significant difference in the lifespan of captive (4.5 years) vs. wild animals (5.8 months), and between males and females. Captive animals have a greater longevity due to their lack of predators and consistent food supply. Males tend to live longer than females.

    Range lifespan
    Status: wild:
    30 (high) months.

    Average lifespan
    Status: wild:
    25 months.

    Range lifespan
    Status: captivity:
    4 to 5 years.

    Typical lifespan
    Status: wild:
    5.6 to 6.0 months.

    Typical lifespan
    Status: captivity:
    1 to 4 years.

Reproduction

    Reproduction
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Mating pairs tend to stay in close contact throughout the mating season. Sekeetamys calurus are a seasonally monogamous species.

    Mating System: monogamous

    Scent markings are a crucial form of attracting mates. Male bushy-tailed jirds also use foot thumping to show females that they are interested in mating. Once a male has selected a female to mate with, he chases her. Chasing of the female commences in the early evening, and may last several hours. Mating pairs tend to stay in close contact throughout the mating season. The pair often wrestle, with the loser being pinned down and given a thorough bathing by the winner.

    Sexual maturity for Sekeetamys calurus is sixty to eighty days after birth. Mating season for bushy-tailed jirds in the wild is February and March. Captive animals have the ability to mate year round. Breeding of captive animals may be difficult as it is dependent on the animals' diet; they must have a high protein and low fat diet. Gestation lasts for 21 to 24 days. Female S. calurus give birth to liters of three to five young in captivity, and two to three young in the wild. Weaning and the first signs of independence of young occur at four to five weeks.

    Breeding interval: Sekeetamys calurus breed once yearly.

    Breeding season: Mating season for bushy-tailed jirds in the wild is February and March.

    Range number of offspring: 1 to 5.

    Range gestation period: 21 to 24 days.

    Range weaning age: 4 to 5 weeks.

    Range time to independence: 4 to 5 weeks.

    Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 60 to 80 days.

    Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 60 to 80 days.

    Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous

    Average number of offspring: 2.9.

    Sekeetamys calurus often form mating pairs that help care for the young. Both parents invest time in watching and gathering food for their young. In groups, the parents protect the young from being eaten by conspecifics. It is important to make sure that in captivity, new bushy-tailed jird parents have enough calcium and protein in their diet. If they do not, they will resort to cannibalism and eat their young.

    Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female)

Conservation Status

    Conservation Status
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    No information was available on the status of S. calurus.

    US Federal List: no special status

    CITES: no special status

    IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

Benefits

    Benefits
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    There was no evidence found on the negative economic importance for humans.

    Benefits
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Sekeetamys calurus are very important to the pet trade. Bushy-tailed jirds have been introduced in many countries as mild-mannered pets. Sekeetamys calurus are also often used in animal laboratories. They make good lab subjects due to their mild manner and unique ways of thermoregulating.

    Positive Impacts: pet trade ; research and education

Other Articles

    Untitled
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Sekeetamys calurus is the only species in its genus. Sekeetamys have several adaptations to their arid environments. Bushy-tailed jirds respond to osmotic stress from dehydration by reducing resting metabolic rate (RMR), increasing non-shivering thermogenesis (NST), and reducing their volume and increasing the concentration of urine. A high capacity NST allows desert rodents to compensate for their low RMR and allows them to be active during cold desert nights. Low RMR allows bushy-tailed jirds to conserve energy during the day when they are sheltered from the heat, and then a high NST capacity allows the animal to increase heat production within a short period of time before nightfall. The adaptive ability of nocturnal activity and diurnal rest is very important to the functioning of S. calurus.