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Merriam's kangaroo rats (Dipodomys merriami), like other kangaroo rats and pocket mice, are members of the family Heteromyidae. Each species within this family has fur-lined food storage pouches. The cheek pouch is utilized as a portable cache for food while foraging. Kangaroo rats are named for their extremely long, kangaroo-like hind feet and they are almost completely bipedal. They hop or jump rather than scurry or run. Because of this, most heteromyid rodents also have a relatively long tail that acts to counterbalance the hopping/jumping form of locomotion.

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