31 Aug 2019

Libyan Jird - Jubail

Whilst in the Jubail area at end of August I saw a Libyan Jird Meriones libycus. Although I have probably seen this species before they were brief views of animals bolting for cover. As a result I was uncertain if it was a Jird or Fat Sand Rat but thought more along the Jird line due to thin face and less fat appearance. I sent the photos below to Mansur Al Fahd who is extremely knowledgeable about most of the Kingdoms wildlife and he replied “This is a Libyan Jird, you can note the longer ears, reddish tail and black nails as well as daytime activity during a hot summer day. The tail tip is normally dense, but here it is small so may have had an accident”. 
It is a large species of jird with a head-and-body length of 100 to 160 mm and a similar-length tail and a weight of 56 to 105 g. The head is broad with large eyes, the fur is fine and dense and the hind legs are long. The upper parts are greyish-brown. The hairs on the underside have white tips and grey bases and the tail is pale brown except for the terminal third of the tail which is deep brown or blackish. The claws are dark-coloured, and the soles of the hind feet are partly hairy so that patches of bare skin are visible. In Saudi Arabia it may be confused with Sundevall's jird Meriones crassusbut that species is smaller, has pale claws and a smaller dark tail tuft. The Libyan Jird is native to North Africa and parts of Western and Central Asia. Its range extends from Mauritania and Morocco to Saudi Arabia, the Near East, Kazakhstan and Western China. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry shrubland, intermittent saline lakes, hot deserts, and rural gardens. The Libyan jird may live alone or in small colonies, and is more sociable in winter when colonies may contain twenty or thirty individuals. It inhabits a burrow up to 1.5 m deep which is a fairly complex series of passages with multiple entrances, It is a diurnal species and forages for seeds, bulbs, tubers and leaves, as well as any dead insect it may find. It often carries the food back to the burrow and here large quantities are stored in chambers near the surface, deeper burrows being used for nesting. It is opportunistically migratory, moving to new territory when food becomes scarce. Breeding takes place throughout most of the year with several litters of about five young being born.
Libyan Jird

Libyan Jird

Libyan Jird

Libyan Jird


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