San Quintin Kangaroo Rat

Central America


Dipodomys gravipes


Threats include habitat destruction and agriculture, as well as intrinsic factors related to a restricted range. Little of this species' original habitat remains intact.

The San Quintin kangaroo rat (Dipodomys gravipes) is a species of rodent in the family Heteromyidae. It is endemic to Mexico, where it is known only from western Baja California. Its natural habitat is arid lowlands with sparse vegetation. The first description of this species was made in 1925 by Laurence M. Huey, an American zoologist. At that time, two large colonies of this kangaroo rat were known, but since then, the area they occupied has been converted to farmland. Until 2017, no specimens had been found since 1986 and the IUCN listed the species as "critically endangered" and possibly extinct. However, in 2017, the species was rediscovered in the Valle Tranquilo Nature Preserve by researchers from the San Diego Natural History Museum; these findings were detailed in a report published in 2018.

The San Quintin kangaroo rat is a small species of kangaroo rat with a head-and-body length of about 13 cm (5 in) and a weight of 80 to 90 g (2.8 to 3.2 oz). The hairy tail has a large tuft of hairs on the end and is longer than the body. The fur on the head and back is a pale pinkish-buff, with some longer black hairs. The underparts are white and a white spot is above the eye, and white stripes run down either side of the tail. The upper surface of the hind feet is white, while the under surface is black. Like other kangaroo rats, the hind legs are powerful and propel the animal in a series of large bounds. The front legs, however, are small and are used for manipulating food and cleaning the cheek pouches. The tail provides balance while jumping and is used as a prop when stationary. The San Quintin kangaroo rat has a limited range in the state of Baja California, Mexico. It occupies a 20 km (12 mi) wide strip of coastal land from San Telmo to El Rosario with two separate populations. Individuals in the southern population are on average larger than those in the northern group. The northern population occupies cactus-covered slopes and adjacent areas with short vegetation, while the southern population is found in floodplains and flat places with sparse vegetation among low hills. The flatter parts of its range are increasingly being cultivated for the production of food for human consumption. The species is now only known from the Valle Tranquilo Nature Reserve, just south of San Quintin.