28 June 2022

Libyan Jird with young - Jubail

As seeing the Libyan Jirds was so exciting last weekend I went back again. I arrived at first light and this time saw what appeared to be young Jirds with and adult. The adult was missing the end of its tail so it looks like it may have had an accident or a lucky escape from something trying to eat it. Breeding takes place throughout most of the year with several litters of about five young being born. I saw at least three, well grown young with this adult. 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 crassus but that species is smaller, has pale claws and a smaller dark tail tuft. 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.