30 years ago was named as the last time anyone had seen the kangaroo rat. Mexican authorities from the dry lands of Baja California, Mexico declared this animal extinct back in 1994, but were astounded when just recently the San Quintin kangaroo rats came out of the shadows and into biologists’ survey traps.
Named for their ability to jump like Kangaroos, with their big back feet and long tails that help with balance, the kangaroo rats are one of many species belonging to the lands of western North America. These mammals are able to leap about 6 feet into the air and can jump away at swift speeds. Their bodies are of a light brown color with a white underbelly, and they are known to eat seeds and be hunted by predators like foxes.
For years, these little creatures dwelled in areas like arid scrub lands all the way to coastal valleys like the ones along the Pacific coast. However, starting in the early 1990’s the kangaroo rats began to dwindle in numbers after their habitats and food started disappearing, thanks to the intense agricultural introduction of the 1970’s. This came as no surprise when they were claimed to be critically endangered, and later on extinct.
No one is currently 100% sure why or how the kangaroo rats came “back into existence”, but scientists are now celebrating their return and are able to further their research that had been suspended 30 years ago.