Kangaroo Rat, a rodent of arid and semiarid regions of western North and Central America. The kangaroo rat is not a rat but a close relative of the pocket mouse. Outside each cheek it has a pouch in which it carries food. Kangaroo rats range from 2 to 6 inches (6.4 to 17 cm) in length, excluding the tail, which is usually 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 times as long as the head and body. The animals have extremely long legs and leap in the manner of kangaroos. There are about 20 species of kangaroo rats, divided into two groups: kangaroo rats and pygmy kangaroo rats (also called kangaroo mice).

The kangaroo ratThe kangaroo rat is a close relative of the pocket mouse.

Like many other desert animals, kangaroo rats seldom, if ever, drink water. The water they derive from metabolizing food is sufficient to sustain them.

The kangaroo rat lives in a burrow that may contain a maze of four tiers of long, winding passages connected by ramps. Each burrow has only a single occupant except during mating season or when the female is caring for the young. Kangaroo rats usually emerge only at night, to gather seeds and other plant foods, which are stored in the burrows. The animals are the prey of owls, coyotes, foxes, badgers, bobcats, and snakes.

Kangaroo rats belong to the genus Dipodomys; pygmy kangaroo rats belong to the genus Microdipodops of the family Heteromyidae.