Mongolian Jird (Gerbil)
(Meriones unguiculatus) #60-352

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Physical characteristics and distribution

Head and body length of M.unguiculatus range from 95-180 mm and tail lengths are 100-193 mm. Weights of captive individuals have been recorded at 50-55 grams for females and 60 grams for males. The pelage is soft and fairly dense with a wide variety of color variations. Upperparts can be clear yellowish, sandy gray to brown. Underparts are lighter ranging from buffy white or pale gray.

M.unguiculatus is found in a variety of habitats including clay and sandy deserts, bush country, arid steppes, low plains, cultivated fields, grasslands, and mountain valleys. Nests are constructed in soft soil and have one or two storerooms next to the main burrow leading to a simple system of tunnels about .45 - .60 meters underground. M.unguiculatus is active both day and night year round in temperatures both extremely hot and extremely cold. They neither hibernate nor estivate.

Their diet consists of green vegetation, roots, bulbs, seeds, cereals, fruits, and insects.

Estrus cycles last 4-6 days and gestation lasts from 24-30 days, but may actually be from 19-21 days. Litters range from 1-12 young but are ususally 4-7 offspring. Birthweight is 2.5 grams, eyes open at 16 - 20 days and are weaned at 20-30 days. Sexual maturity is reached at 65-85 days and females can reporduce until they are as old as 20 months. Males and sometimes juveniles from previous litters assist in the raising of the new offspring, though males are also thought to interfere at times with the maternal care of the babies resulting int heir loss.

M.unguiculatus occurs in Mongolia and adjacent regions of Siberia (Transbaikalia) and of China, from E Gansu, N Ningxia, N Shaanxi, N Shanxi, and Hebei, through C and N Nei Mongol and Liaoning.

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Animal source and preparation

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