any of 33 species of long-tailed leaping rodents well adapted to the deserts and steppes of eastern Europe, Asia, and northern Africa. Jerboas are mouselike, with bodies ranging from 5 to 15 cm (2 to 5.9 inches) in length and long tails of 7 to 25 cm. Certain traits are highly variable between species, particularly the size of the ears, which range from small and round to slender and rabbitlike or remarkably large and broad. Hind toes number from three to five, but all species have short forelegs and extremely long hind legs. The tail is often tufted. Jerboas' dense fur is either silky or velvety in texture and light in colour, usually matching the ground of the animal's habitat.
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