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Nature Notes - Spinifex Hopping Mouse

Imag of a Spinifex Hopping MouseWhat does it look like?

Spinifex Hopping-mice (Notomys alexis) have large eyes and ears, big back feet, long tufted tails and move with a a hopping & galloping gait.

How does it survive in the desert?

Spinifex Hopping-mice are nocturnal and stay hidden during the heat of the day. Like many other desert mammals, during dry times, they can survive without drinking. Their very effective kidneys absorb every drop of water from their waste. They have solid urine!

Spinifex Hopping Mouse numbers fluctuate greatly and population explosions often follow periods of heavy rain. They are placental mammals and pregnancy lasts 38-41 days. The female usually raises 3 or 4 young which are weaned at four weeks and sexually mature at two and a half months.

Where does it live?

Spinifex Hopping-mice live in the sand country of central Australia. They avoid the heat of the day by sheltering in a deep, humid burrow. Their burrow is a horizontal tunnel, about a meter underground, with several vertical shafts to the surface. Entrances are well concealed under clumps of grass. 

What does it eat?

Unlike rodents living in less harsh environments, those living in areas of infrequent rain cannot rely solely on grain as a food source. As a result most desert rodents are omnivorous and have a varied diet that also includes leaves, shoots, roots and insects.

Who eats it?

Owls, dingoes, feral cats and red foxes

How big are they and how long do they live?

Spinifex Hopping Mice grow to 7-8cm and live for 4-6 years.

Wild Status

Common

Extra Fun Facts

Spinifex Hopping mice have been known to migrate up to 15km towards rain.

During summer when temperatures in their burrow rise above their body temperature, hopping mice can raise their body temperature so their surroundings feel cooler.

Comparison

Compare with the Kangaroo Rat of the Sonoran Desert.