Okay, there are no Kangaroos in Quartzsite – but there are Kangaroo rats!
If you walk through the Sonoran desert, which Quartzsite is a part of, you may notice many small holes in the sand, similar to gopher holes, and wonder what creature may inhabit it. There are many possible residents, or they may be abandoned. Well, recently I’d wondered about one I saw near my tent, but figured no one was probably home. I was wrong!
One day, while watching the birds, I noticed a small face in the hole, pecking out to see what the commotion was about. Was it a bunny? Its head looked big enough. Eventually, it cautiously made its way out, and I saw what it was – a kangaroo rat!
Merriam’s Kangaroo Rat, native to the Sonoran desert, is a small rodent with a surprising 9-year lifespan. Pet rats typically have a lifespan of 1-3 years. These kangaroo rats are smaller at around 50g in weight and 14″ length. They move bipedally-hopping on their hind legs like a kangaroo, and have a long tail with a tuft of hair at the tip that helps stabilize them while moving.
It is rare to see them during the day, or even during a full moon, as they are nocturnal, moving & foraging in the dark of night for seeds & plants. They are solitary and territorial, digging tunnels with multiple escapes to avoid predators. The entrances are usually found around shrubs so they have the added protection, and tend to forage within their territories.
In that case, I’ll call this girl Mary, and hope she enjoys the occasional gift of seeds from me!