About Them: These are a subspecies of a subspecies. There are Kangaroo Rats, then there are San Joaquin Kangaroo rats and within this subspecies there are three distinct subspecies one of which is the Fresno Kangaroo Rat. From my limited research it is not clear that there are any left. These Kangaroo Rats look very similar to one of the other three subspecies the Tipton. To tell them apart almost requires dissection.
Kangaroo Rats have very defined pouches in their cheeks to carry food back to their burrows. There are photos in some of the links and it looks wild. The San Joaquin Kangaroo Rats all have the distinctive feature of having four toes on their back feet.
Their plight: Their habitat is now agricultural land. It was only within the Central Valley of California near the San Joaquin River. There are a few locations left undisturbed, but they are each isolated making it so if one population foundered there would be no way for them to find others to repopulate. Also for any left on the farm land pesticide is wildly put out to keep down ground squirrel populations. It ends up affecting the Kangaroo Rats too.
What we should consider: How do you get farmers to love a rat? This may look like a gerbil ie the cutest rat you have ever seen, but it is a rat. It creates burrows that are disturbances. It is so complicated when where a species lives is such a narrow bit of land. It is viable because of a river for local species and farmers. At this point everything is developed what is the course of action from there? Its seems like uninterrupted larger habitat is required, is there a way to achieve that so people can also still use the land?
What is being done: Surveys to find the Kangaroo Rat are being done. They have not been found it in its historical range since the 90’s. As far as I can tell there are no captive breeding programs. It looks like by the time they decided to jump in to a captive breeding program they could not find any. They did find the Giant Kangaroo Rat and the Tipton Kangaroo Rat and are translocating them. The hope is that the Fresno Kangaroo Rat is still hanging on in locations they are unable to do surveys.
How to help: Continue bringing awareness. Call into state senators when legislation is being passed that could affect the continued support of policy that protects wildlife and waterways. Support locally.
Support can be:
- donating to science groups
- helping to ensure funding to the organizations that creating breeding programs
- being a citizen scientist through
- land restoration project
- trash clean ups
- species counts
- bio blitzes
- getting people you know excited about how incredible our planet’s biodiversity is.
Joining your local Audubon Society or other local conservation group is a great first step into finding activities and ways to become a citizen scientist and environmental advocate.
Further Reading, my sources:
[This is a blog of my opinions. I speak for myself. I am a one person team and if I have misinterpreted a fact or made an error please feel free to get in touch to correct me. I will make edits and updates to post. I would appreciate corrections to be polite. I will not engage in hate.]