Other name: Bushy Tailed Jird, Bushy Tailed Dipodil, Jirds Bushy Tails
Scientific name: Sekeetamys calurus
Country / Place of origin: Middle East
History: Bushy Tail Jirds are native of Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Central Saudi Arabia near the shores of the Red Sea. Pet Gerbils are descendent from the original twenty pairs of Gerbils transported from Mongolia and bred in other countries like Japan (since the 1930s), the United States (since 1954), the United Kingdom (since 1964), and in many other countries thereafter. They are more closely related to hamsters than to mice.
Appearance: Bushy Tailed Jirds look like oversized Gerbils. They are thinner and have long fluffy tails, especially on the dominant male. The tail tips are often white. Like the Gerbils, their faces are pointed, and they have long and prominent whiskers. They grow to about 5 inches in length.
Average weight: 1 - 3 oz.
Lifespan: 2 - 5 years
Grooming: Jirds do not need grooming by their owners because they spend a lot of time cleaning their fur and washing their faces. Gerbils enjoy sand baths to remove grease from their coat.
Diet: Bushy Tailed Jirds, like Gerbils, primarily feed on seeds, stalks, and herb roots, but they also hunt insects like beetles, crickets, and moths. They also eat fruits and vegetables, although these should be given sparingly because too much gives them diarrhea (in their natural habitat, they rarely encounter food that has too much moisture content). Branches of fruit trees, birch, hazel, and beech are good for chewing down. Pre-mixed gerbil and hamster food are well accepted.
Housing: Bushy Tail Jirds are best housed in a medium to large glass enclosure or aquarium (plastic enclosures cannot withstand the gnawing prowess of the Bushy Tailed Jird) with a secure lid to prevent escape and protect the Jirds from predators. Because Jirds are good burrowers, bedding that is deep enough for digging is recommended. The best bedding is aspen shavings.Sand can be incorporated in the cage, together with twigs and hay to allow tunneling. Otherwise, a sand bowl should be provided for sand bathing, which Jirds often do to remove grease from their fur. Nesting material should also be added, like shredded paper towels or toilet paper. Hiding places like tubes and cardboard boxes provide security and seclusion. A metal or metal-covered water bottle (to withstand chewing) with fresh water should be available. The enclosure must be cleaned and disinfected regularly.
Health issues: Like other Jirds and Gerbils, the Bushy Tail Jird is prone to ailments common to small mammals, like colds (from too much moisture, drafts, or very high temperatures), indigestion (from bad food), or undue stress.
Behavior / Temperament / Activity level: Bushy Tailed Jirds are sociable and fun to watch as they explore their surroundings. They rarely bite unless extremely scared or threatened. They are active and curious and although nocturnal, will wake up during the day if disturbed. They are constant chewers and will gnaw through anything their teeth can sink in.