The smallest “jumping mouse”, considered the tiniest rodent in the world, was recently found in the Hotan Prefecture of China’s western Xinjiang region. The mouse is known as dwarf three-toed jerboa, and is a species of rodent which usually appears in desert areas.
Chen Wenjie, a bird lover from Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, was driving on a village road in Hotan Prefecture when he saw that the “mouse” had stopped in front of his car. According to Chen, the mouse has a pig-like face and a body slightly bigger than a bottled water cap. It weighs about the same as a one-yuan coin.
Chen placed the little creature into an empty bottle and brought it home, observing that it only seems to come out at night.
“In extreme cases, it slept for around 17 hours a day, wrapping its tail around its neck to shut out all the noises,” said Chen.
Jiang Wei, a researcher with the centre for disease control and prevention in Xinjiang, identified the creature as a dwarf three-towed jerboa. Dwarf three-towed jerboas usually live in Xinjiang, Gansu and Inner Mongolia, and has been spotted in other countries such as Kazakhstan. Jiang said the jerboa moves over its dry desert habitat using long hops.
According to Jiang, the life span of a jerboa is only around two years, and they have only three or four offspring each year. Apparently, a newborn jerboa is even tinier—about the size of a peanut kernel.
Chen said he has released the creature.
By Crystal Lau
[Images via ECNS.cn]