desert rat

any of various small rodents, as the kangaroo rat, inhabiting arid regions.
Chiefly Western U.S. one who lives in the desert, especially in order to prospect for gold or other valuable minerals.
Informal. a soldier fighting in the N African desert in World War II, especially a British soldier.

1905–10, Americanism Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
desert rat
1.  a jerboa, Jaculus orientalis, inhabiting the deserts of N Africa
2.  informal (Brit) a soldier who served in North Africa with the British 7th Armoured Division in 1941--42

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Example sentences
The trip was a great reminder of why once you're a desert rat, you're always a desert rat.
Besides, he had taken a liking to the eccentric desert rat.
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