Kangaroo rats are mainly found in the desert of the western United States, but they are rarely seen there, at least not during the daytime. These little creatures have found a convenient way of dealing with the intense heat of the day and the lack of moisture in their habitat.
As nocturnal animals, kangaroo rats are active at night. This is when they search for food, such as grass seeds and insects. They also spend much of the night transporting seeds back to their homes for storage. Because they are busy all night, they spend the day resting. It is unusual to see a kangaroo rat out and about during the daytime.
Kangaroo rats make their homes in burrows, and that is where they spend the day sleeping. The burrows are usually located at the base of small bushes. These underground homes include a complex tunnel system and several rooms or compartments for different purposes, such as sleeping, food storage and raising young. Some kangaroo rats live in communal burrows, while others have their own burrows. Since the kangaroo rat leaves at night, sometimes other desert animals that are active during the day, like lizards, sleep in the burrows while their owners are out gathering food.
During the day kangaroo rats plug the entrances to their burrows. This isn't just to keep out daylight, but to serve several vital purposes. Closing the entryways deters predators who might otherwise attempt a surprise attack on a sleeping kangaroo rat. It also keeps the burrow temperature constant as outside temperatures soar and holds in moisture.
Kangaroo rats don't drink water. Their bodies are so well-adapted to life in the desert that they can stay hydrated just by eating seeds. Going outside during the day, when the sun is out and temperatures are hot, could cause dehydration, so the kangaroo rat ventures out only after dark.
Kangaroo rats don't venture out when there are storms or foul weather, even in the middle of the night. They have been known to stay in their burrows for several days and nights at a time during inclement weather, so not only are they not seen during the day, but they stay hidden all night long as well.
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