Animals that live in arid and hot desert ecosystems may have large ears to help dissipate the heat of their bodies. Other animals with large ears use them to detect any sound that could hail a potential threat or a possible meal.
In relation to the size of its body, the ears of a long-eared jerboa are among the largest of any mammal. The long-eared jerboa resides in parts of Mongolia and China, living in the deserts of those countries. The creature possesses hairs on its feet that act almost like snowshoes, allowing the jerboa to hop around on the sand. The long-eared jerboa is much like a mouse, but in addition to the ears that are a third longer than the length of the head, the rodent has long rear legs. The jerboa hops around like a kangaroo, eluding predators and living a nocturnal life. The tail can be as long as 6.3 inches, which is much longer than the jerboa's body, which typically is around 3 inches long. The long-eared jerboa consumes a diet of insects and spends the daylight hours secluded in burrows underground.
The fennec fox is the smallest of all the canines, but has the largest ears. The fennec fox inhabits the deserts of North Africa, including the Sahara, as well as parts of the Sinai Peninsula. The fennec fox has a weight of between 2.5 to 4 lbs. and a length of up to 2 feet, including an 8-inch long tail. The fennec fox has furry feet to allow it to scuttle over hot sand and kidneys that work to keep water loss to a minimum. The fennec fox uses its ears to locate prey. Even prey hidden underground is at risk of detection by the acute hearing of the fennec fox. The excellent hearing power the ears give the fox help it to find animals such as rodents, birds, snails and lizards. The fennec fox also eats plants, fruits and berriess. The fennec fox has a thick coat of sandy colored fur to keep it warm at night and to reflect heat in the day.
The black-tailed jackrabbit is the most plentiful and widespread of the jackrabbit species in North America. The creature, which is not a rabbit but rather a hare, lives in most of the western states and into Mexico. The black-tailed jackrabbit has ears that according to the "National Audubon Society Field Guide to Mammals" may be as long as 5.5 inches. The ears gave the jackrabbits their name, as early settlers referred to them as the jackass-rabbit. The long ears help with heat dissipation and allow the jackrabbit to hear any danger approaching. The black-tailed jackrabbit consumes sagebrush, crops, mesquite, cacti and grasses along with other plant life. The black-tailed jackrabbit is a social animal, often feeding in groups. The predators of this species include foxes, bobcats, coyotes, raptors, badgers and snakes.
- Photo Credit tunisie fennec image by Arraial from Fotolia.com
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