Dark Kangaroo Mouse: 21 Facts You Won't Believe!

Dark kangaroo mouse facts about the small mammals known as pocket mice

The dark kangaroo mouse is one of the species of jumping rats that is native to the United States. Its range extends across the Great Basin Desert, hence its native range spans across the states of Oregon, Utah, Nevada, and the eastern edge of California. This species from the family Heteromyidae prefers the gravel and loose sand that is present in the Upper Sonoran life zone. Dark kangaroo mouse (Microdipodops megacephalus) draw their name from their ability to move around by hopping on their hind legs. Their tail is a fat-storage organ, which is quite unique amongst the known North American mammals. Out of the total length of around 5.5-7 in (14-18 cm), the tail alone accounts for 2.7-3.9 in (7-10 cm) in the dark kangaroo mouse (Microdipodops megacephalus). While seeds form the primary food source for these rodents, dark kangaroo mice occasionally feed on insects, as well.

The dark kangaroo mouse (Microdipodops megacephalus) does not need to drink water as this North American rat species draws all the moisture it requires from the food. Here are some more interesting facts about the mouse species from North America. Afterwards, do have a look at our other articles on the white-footed mouse and the harvest mouse, as well.

Dark kangaroo mouse

Fact File

What do they prey on?


What do they eat?


Average litter size?

2-7 pups

How much do they weigh?

0.35-0.6 oz (10-17 g)

How long are they?

5.5-7 in (14-18 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Dark brown and black fur with elongated hind legs

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Humans, owls, snakes

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Desserts and grasslands


United States of America





Scientific Name

Microdipodops megacephalus





Dark Kangaroo Mouse Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a dark kangaroo mouse?

The dark kangaroo mouse (Microdipodops megacephalus) is a pale brown rodent that belongs to the genus Microdipodops. These kangaroo mice are native to various regions in the United States. Alternatively, they are also known as Owyhee River kangaroo mice. They have dark fur for the exoskeleton and hopping feet just like that of an Australian kangaroo.

What class of animal does a dark kangaroo mouse belong to?

Dark kangaroo mouse (Microdipodops megacephalus) owing to its anatomical similarity to other mammals, belongs to the class Mammalia of kingdom Animalia. Dark kangaroo mice further belong to the order Rodentia. A Kangaroo mouse can be any one of the two species of the genus Micropididas. The binomial name of one of the kangaroo mice is Microdipodops megacephalus.

How many dark kangaroo mice are there in the world?

With the changing weather, the population of Microdipodops megacephalus (dark kangaroo mouse) has increased in its range of habitat. The population studies on these rodents in an area of 27,540 ac (112 sq km) suggest that there are around 2.5-2.75 kangaroo mice in 1 ac (0.004 sq km). These mice can be found in the habitat range of southeastern Oregon, northeastern and central-eastern California, western-central Utah, and Nevada.

Where does a dark kangaroo mouse live?

Microdipodops megacephalus (dark kangaroo mouse) is found camouflaging in a variety of dessert niches. They are well adapted to desert life and are found in a number of habitat regions in the United States such as California, Central Utah, Nevada, Idaho, and Oregon.

What is a dark kangaroo mouse's habitat?

In the desert regions, grasslands, marshes in the United States, these kangaroo mice are found living in habitat range comprising loose sands and gravels. They create small holes underground and hide in these pits. They also breed and nest in these self-created small burrow holes and gravels. During cold harsh winters, they hibernate near the range of the Great Basin region.

Who do dark kangaroo mice live with?

Quite interestingly these mice are known to practice cannibalism. Unlike the rodents found in the city, these mice prefer living in solitary and pair up during the mating season. They are like any other rodents that get aggressive when another rodent crosses their territory.

How long does a dark kangaroo mouse live?

This jumping mouse in the desserts is prey to many predators like snakes, owls, foxes. On average, it may live till the age of around two to three years in the wilderness of the desert.

How do they reproduce?

They (genus Microdipodops) breed during the March and July months.  These specialized granivores hop on their two hind feet like a kangaroo and look around for partners for mating. After courtship display and mating, the female gives birth to around two to seven babies in a litter. These young ones stay back and feed on their mothers till they are grown enough to fend on their own.

What is their conservation status?

Their population is fluctuating, that is it is increasing and declining in a random pattern. This is because they are very sensitive to the changing weather. They are even sensitive to moonlight and are nocturnal in nature, avoiding the extremes of the daylight. But for now, their numbers are stable so they are placed in the Least Concern species of animals in the IUCN Red List as no conservation efforts are required. Hence, they are not Endangered.

Dark Kangaroo Mouse Fun Facts

What do dark kangaroo mice look like?

It is named so because of the dark color of its fur. It hops like a kangaroo on its hind limbs and shares grave similarities with the members of the Rodentia family. Its head is larger than its body and the neck is relatively short. Prominent glassy eyes, short fur, long snout, and tail covered in fur are all its physical features. Apart from this, its fur coat is really silky. The fur on its back is brownish to grayish-black, while that on the belly is grayish to whitish in appearance. Interestingly their size varies with the weather and fat deposits in their body increase during winter when they undergo hibernation.

(Dark kangaroo mice are a species of small mammals that use their tail for fat storage

How cute are they?

These mice are really cute animals. They are dark and small and move around hoping on their two hind feet. They are generally bipedal, but can also move on all their four feet in the forests and deserts. Their glassy eyes are even more appealing to many people.

How do they communicate?

Rodents are known to have really sharp senses. They pick up the tiniest of sounds easily, and hence, are always alert. They communicate with each other by chattering their teeth, vocalizing, and drumming their feet systematically. Other than that, they may also produce small grunts, growls, and squeaks.

How big is a dark kangaroo mouse?

A kangaroo mouse (Microdipodops megacephalus) is a small-sized bipedal mammal. Their body length ranges between 5.5-7 in (14-18 cm). Their tail length may be in the range of 2.7-3.9 in (7-10 cm).

How fast can a dark kangaroo mouse run?

Rodents in general are very easy prey. A number of predators feast on these little mammals. This is one reason that these mice have evolved to be really fast creatures. They are quick and can move around with a speed range of 6 mph (10 kph) which is quite remarkable.

How much does a dark kangaroo mouse weigh?

Their weight ranges between 0.35-0.6 oz (10-17 g). These are lightweight creatures and have longer and healthier life spans when kept in captivity.

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male mouse is referred to as buck and the female is referred to as doe. The female mouse is usually smaller in size than the male.

What would you call a baby dark kangaroo mouse?

Dark kangaroo baby mice are referred to as pups or pinkies. In a litter, a female may give birth to around two to seven pups. These pups are born without their fur and are pink in appearance.

What do they eat?

They are omnivorous creatures in terms of feeding behavior. They feed on seeds collecting them in their furred cheek pouches. Apart from this, they may also be seen feeding on grasses and insects.

Are they dangerous?

These cute creatures are generally harmless in terms of behavior description unless they are threatened. But they portray cannibalism when they fight for their territory.

Would they make a good pet?

These animals are antisocial and annoying. They can be kept in captivity, like laboratories, for research purposes with permission taken from the authorities. But they do not make good domestic pets since they are hosts to a number of endo and exo parasites that are known to cause severe diseases in human beings.

Did you know...

The dark kangaroo mice, like their other cousins, are so well adapted to the desert life that they can very easily survive there even without drinking water. They can take up moisture from seeds and suffice their thirst.

But when it has too much water in the body after drinking water, the body flushes it out. As a result, the nutrients required by the rodent are also flushed out, leading to its death.

The dark kangaroo mouse is a closely related heteromyid rodent of North American rats. These mice go into hibernation during the winter months.

The population of this mouse species is concentrated in the habitat range of Nevada, California, Utah, and Oregon.

Jerboa are leaping rodents, like kangaroo mice, and are well adapted to the deserts and steppes habitats.

How far can a kangaroo mouse jump?

The dark kangaroo mouse (Microdipodops megacephalus) is known to have excellent senses especially hearing ability. They are so alert that they can very easily detect the sound of approaching predators like an owl. They can jump up to a good 9 ft (2.7 m) in defense against predators.

Are dark kangaroo mice active during the night?

The dark kangaroo mice, as well as, kangaroo rats of the genus Dipodomys have evolved to live a nocturnal life. They go out at night foraging and drinking water along the Basin. They rest in the day and are at their peak of activity status just two hours before sunrise.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these black musk deer facts and numbat facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable dark kangaroo mouse coloring pages.



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