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One of the largest problems for desert-dwelling animals is conserving water. Gerbils conserve water by producing concentrated urine and feces which allows metabolic water to remain in the animal's system. Due to the physiology of its kidney, G. setzeri is able to produce more concentrated urine than any other Gerbillurus species.

(Dempster et. al. 1998)

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Anderson, R. 2000. "Gerbillurus setzeri" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Gerbillurus_setzeri.html
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Rebecca Anderson, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Behavior

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Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical

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Anderson, R. 2000. "Gerbillurus setzeri" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Gerbillurus_setzeri.html
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Rebecca Anderson, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Conservation Status

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Gerbillurus setzeri lives in the Namib Desert which is inhospitable for most mammals, including humans. Therefore, this species is relatively safe from habitat destruction and habitat loss.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Anderson, R. 2000. "Gerbillurus setzeri" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Gerbillurus_setzeri.html
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Rebecca Anderson, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Benefits

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Many gerbil species do not come into contact with humans because they live deep in the deserts, but where humans and gerbils coexist, the gerbils can be very destructive to fields and crops. They can also carry deadly diseases.

(MacDonald, 1984)

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Anderson, R. 2000. "Gerbillurus setzeri" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Gerbillurus_setzeri.html
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Rebecca Anderson, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Benefits

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Gerbils are popular pets.

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Anderson, R. 2000. "Gerbillurus setzeri" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Gerbillurus_setzeri.html
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Rebecca Anderson, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Trophic Strategy

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Gerbillurus setzeri consumes arthropods, plant material and seeds. Field researchers in central Namibia found leaves, dried flowers, dried fruits, seeds, chewed grass, remains of insects and beetles, and twigs in food caches from several G. setzeri burrows.

(Dempster et. al., 1998)

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Anderson, R. 2000. "Gerbillurus setzeri" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Gerbillurus_setzeri.html
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Rebecca Anderson, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Distribution

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Gerbillurus setzeri is known throughout the Namib Desert in Africa. It ranges northward from the Kuiseb River to southern Angola.

(Dempster et. al., 1998; Wilson and Reeder, 1993)

Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )

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Anderson, R. 2000. "Gerbillurus setzeri" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Gerbillurus_setzeri.html
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Rebecca Anderson, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Habitat

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The hairy-footed gerbil is a desert animal. It is most frequently found on gravel plains without vegetation. These animals prefer dry river beds where top soil is loose and gravely and the lower layers are compact. If population densities become too high, G. setzeri will create burrows in sand dunes.

G. setzeri creates burrow systems below the surface of the desert to avoid the harsh desert climate. Below the surface, temperatures remain constant near 26 degrees Celsius during the day and at night. The humidity is also higher in these burrow systems.

Ninety percent of the burrow systems created by the hairy-footed gerbil are complex. Complex burrow systems contain numerous side branches and multiple entrances. For diagrams of these burrow systems see Downs and Perrin (1989). G. setzeri burrows are among the longest and deepest of the Gerbillurus species.

(Dempster et. al. 1998; Downs and Perrin, 1989)

Terrestrial Biomes: desert or dune

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Anderson, R. 2000. "Gerbillurus setzeri" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Gerbillurus_setzeri.html
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Rebecca Anderson, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Morphology

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Setzer's hairy-footed gerbil is one of the more robust gerbil species. Its head is larger than the head's of other Gerbillurus species and its body length is longer. The average total body length is around 233 millimeters with the tail comprising an average of 127.4 millimeters of the total length. The hairy-footed gerbil also has the largest auditory bullae of all Gerbillurus species.

As the common name implies, the soles of the feet are covered with hairs, an adaptation seen in many desert dwelling mammals. The pelage is long and thick and matches the color of the desert in which it lives. The dorsal side is a light brown or beige color. The ventral side, limbs, and mouth region are white. The hairy-footed gerbil has a long bushy tail ending in a tuft of gray hairs.

(Dempster et. al., 1998; Nowak, 1999)

Range mass: 30 to 40 g.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry

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Anderson, R. 2000. "Gerbillurus setzeri" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Gerbillurus_setzeri.html
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Rebecca Anderson, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Reproduction

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Gerbillurus setzeri breeds year round. During copulation the male inserts a copulatory plug into the vagina. The gestation period for a litter is 21 days. Litters range from one to six altricial young. Their eyes are closed for the first 18 days of their lives. The young are weaned between 23 and 28 days after birth. Information about the postnatal development of Gerbillurus setzeri has been difficult to observe primarily because they are difficult to breed in captivity.

(Dempster, E.R. and Perrin M.R., 1991; Dempster et. al. 1998)

Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual

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Anderson, R. 2000. "Gerbillurus setzeri" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Gerbillurus_setzeri.html
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Rebecca Anderson, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Namib brush-tailed gerbil

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The Namib brush-tailed gerbil[3] or Setzer's hairy-footed gerbil (Gerbillurus setzeri)[4] is a species of rodent endemic to Angola and Namibia. Its natural habitats are sandy and gravelly plains. It stays in its burrow by day, emerging at night to feed on arthropods, vegetable matter, and seeds.

Description

The Namib brush-tailed gerbil is the largest species in the genus Gerbillurus, growing to a head-and-body length of about 110 mm (4.3 in) with a tail of around 130 mm (5 in). The dorsal fur is a pale sandy brown colour, individual hairs having a grey basal half and a sandy tip. The flanks are paler than the back, and the face, chin, throat and underparts are white. The eyes are surrounded by indistinct whitish eye rings, the ears are colourless and scantily furred, and the whiskers are black and white. The legs and feet are white, with the soles and the undersides of the digits being densely clad with hair. The tail is sandy-coloured above and white beneath, and is tipped by a long tuft of grey hairs.[4]

Distribution and habitat

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Suitable habitat at Namib-Naukluft National Park

This gerbil endemic to southwestern Angola and northwestern and western Namibia in a strip of land running parallel to the coast. It typically occurs in sandy and gravelly areas, sand flats, bare gravel plains with thin, semi-compacted soils, and dried up riverbeds. When population densities rise, some animals may move into nearby dune areas.[1][4]

Ecology

The Namib brush-tailed gerbil is nocturnal, spending the day in a branching burrow with several entrances that it excavates. It prefers bare areas with little vegetation, and the position of its burrows is often made obvious by the heaps of excavated spoil of a different colour from the surroundings. The burrow may be as long as 2 m (7 ft) and contains a nesting chamber, lined with shredded herbage, and storerooms for food. The gerbil feeds on arthropods, plant material and seeds. It does not need to drink, as it is very efficient at concentrating its urine and is thus able to retain as much moisture in its body as possible. It is more sociable than some related species, but aggressive encounters sometimes occur, with chasing and boxing taking place; there are some vocalizations, including ultrasonic whistles, which are associated with sexual behaviour and communication, and foot drumming is also used.[3][4]

Status

This gerbil is a common species with a moderate-sized range and is presumed to have a large total population. Much of that population is found in protected areas, and the gerbil faces no particular threats, so the International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed its conservation status as being of "least concern".[1]

References

  1. ^ a b c Cassola, F. (2016). "Gerbillurus setzeri". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016. Retrieved 1 August 2019.old-form url
  2. ^ Dempster, Edith R.; Perrin, Michael R.; Downs, Colleen T. & Griffin, Michael (1998). "Gerbillurus setzeri". Mammalian Species. 598 (598): 1–4. doi:10.2307/3504394. JSTOR 3504394.
  3. ^ a b Griffin, M. (1990). "A Review of Taxonomy and Ecology of Gerbilline Rodents of the Central Namib Desert, with Keys to the Species (Rodentia: Muridae)" (PDF). Namib Ecology: 25 Years of Namib Research: 83–98.
  4. ^ a b c d Kingdon, Jonathan; Happold, David; Butynski, Thomas; Hoffmann, Michael; Happold, Meredith & Kalina, Jan (2013). Mammals of Africa. A&C Black. pp. 290–291. ISBN 978-1-4081-8996-2.
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Namib brush-tailed gerbil: Brief Summary

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The Namib brush-tailed gerbil or Setzer's hairy-footed gerbil (Gerbillurus setzeri) is a species of rodent endemic to Angola and Namibia. Its natural habitats are sandy and gravelly plains. It stays in its burrow by day, emerging at night to feed on arthropods, vegetable matter, and seeds.

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