Sand Rat, Psammomys obesus

The sand rat (Psammomys obesus), also known as the fat sand rat, is found in North Africa, as well as the Middle East. Its range extended from Mauritania to the Arabian Peninsula. It prefers habitats within sandy deserts, but it can be found within saline marsh areas and areas with rocky ground. It will burrow under vegetation like saltbushes, where rats can often be found foraging.

There are many medical uses for the sand rat. Because of their tendency to get diabetes mellitus when fed a diet of grains, they are often used in diabetes studies. In Africa, the sand rat is known to have a parasite that causes leishmaniasis in humans, and so is important for research. Sand rats have very strong kidneys that allow them produce concentrated urine from halophyte . Their kidneys allow them to live in extreme heat without much water, and these abilities are the focus of many studies.

The sand rat is diurnal, although depending on its location, it may not be very active above ground. Sand rats typically give birth to a litter of up to seven pups once a year. The sand rat appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Least Concern”.

Image Caption: Fat Sand Rat. Credit: Tino Strauss/Wikipedia(CC BY-SA 2.5)