Reproduction of the Australian Hopping mouse, Notomys alexis, and other bipedal desert rodents

  • W. G. Breed
Part of the Biology and Environment book series (SBES)


About 10 per cent of the Earth’s land mass consists of desert or arid areas where mean annual rainfall is less than 250 mm. Nearly another 10 per cent is made up of semi-arid regions (Kirmiz, 1962; Goodall, 1973). The largest deserts occur in North Africa and Asia, whereas the largest proportion of desert land is on the Australian continent. Degree of aridity depends mainly on the intensity and frequency of rainstorms, which usually occur erratically and may be absent for several years. High daytime temperatures and low relative humidity produce high rates of evaporation, especially in summer. Moisture from showers or dew may therefore have little effect on the growth of vegetation (Cloudsley-Thompson and Chadwick, 1964; Logan, 1968). Rainstorms are usually seasonal, occurring mostly in summer in deserts near the tropics, and in winter in those nearer temperate regions. Plant growth is strongly affected by seasonality of rainfall. In central Australia growth of perennials is inhibited by winter frosts, and the extent of spring growth depends on soil moisture (Slatyer, 1962). Ephemerals grow after rains in winter, while summer rains determine the extent of growth of grasses.


Litter Size Mongolian Gerbil Green Vegetation Ovarian Activity Gestation Length 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adams, C. E. and Norris, M. L. (1973). Observations on reproduction in the Mongolian gerbil, Meriones unguiculatus, J. Reprod. Fért., 33, 185–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Asdell, S. A. (1964). Patterns of Mammalian Reproduction, 2nd edn, Ithaca University Press, Ithaca, N.Y.Google Scholar
  3. Baverstock, P. R. and Watts, C. H. S. (1975). Water balance of small lactating rodents. I. Ad libitum water intake and effects of water restriction in growth of young, Comp. Biochem. Physiol., 50A, 819–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bartholomew, G. A. and Dawson, W. R. (1968). Temperature regulation in mammals, in Desert Biology, Vol. I (ed. G. W. Brown Jr), Academic Press, New York and London, pp. 395–421CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beatley, J. C. (1969). Dependence of desert rodents on winter annuals and precipitation, Ecology, 50, 721–4CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Beer, J. R. and MacLeod, C. F. (1961). Seasonal reproduction in the Meadow vole, J. Mammal., 42, 483–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bradley, W. G. and Maurer, R. A. (1971). Reproduction and food habits of Merriam’s kangaroo rat, Dipodomys merriami, J. Mammal, 52, 497–507CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Breed, W. G. (1975). Environmental factors and reproduction in the female hopping mouse, Notomys alexis, J. Reprod. Fert., 45, 273–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Breed, W. G. (1976). Effect of environment on ovarian activity of wild hopping mice (Notomys alexis), J. Reprod. Fert., 47, 395–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Breed, W. G. (1979). The reproductive rate of the hopping mouse (Notomysalexis) and its ecological significance, Aust. J. Zool., 27, 177–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chew, R. M. and Butterworth, B. B. (1959). Growth and development of Merriam’s kangaroo rat, Dipodomys merriami, Growth, 23, 75–95PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Chew, R. M. and Butterworth, B. B. (1964). Ecology of rodents in Indian Cove (Mojave desert), Joshua Tree National Monument, California, J. Mammal., 45, 203–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cloudsley-Thompson, J. L. and Chadwick, M. J. (1964). Life in Deserts, Foulis, LondonGoogle Scholar
  14. Crichton, E. G. (1974). Aspects of reproduction in the genus Notomys (Muridae), Aust. J. Zool., 22, 439–47PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Eisenberg, J. F. (1975). The behaviour patterns of desert rodents, in Rodents in Desert Environments (ed. I. Prakash and P. K. Ghosh), W. Junk, The Hague, pp. 189–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Eisenberg, J. F. and Isaac, D. E. (1963). The reproduction of heteromyid rodents in captivity, J. Mammal., 44, 61–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Finlayson, H. H. (1940). On central Australian mammals. Part I. The Muridae, Trans. R. Soc. S. Aust., 64, 125–36Google Scholar
  18. Fleming, T. H. (1977). Growth and development of two species of typical Heteromyid rodents, Am. Midl. Nat 98, 109–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ghobrial, L. I. and Hodieb, A. S. K. (1973). Climate and seasonal variations in the breeding of the desert jerboa, Jaculus jaculus, in the Sudan, J. Reprod. Fert., Suppl. 19, 221–34Google Scholar
  20. Goodall, D. W. (1973). Introduction, in Evolution of Desert Biota (ed. D. W. Goodall), University of Texas Press, Austin and London, pp. 3–5Google Scholar
  21. Happold, D. C. D. (1975). The ecology of rodents in northern Sudan, in Rodents in Desert Environments (ed. I. Prakash and P. K. Ghosh), W. Junk, The Hague, pp. 15–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Herbert, J. (1977). External factors and ovarian activity in mammals, in The Ovary, 2nd edn, Vol. 2 (ed. S. Zuckerman and B. J. Weir), Academic Press, New York and London, pp. 475–505Google Scholar
  23. Kemper, C. M. (1976). Reproduction of Pseudomys novaehollandiae (Muridae), in the laboratory, Aust. J. Zool., 24, 159–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kenagy, G. J. (1973). Daily and seasonal patterns of activity and energetics in a heteromyid rodent community, Ecology, 54, 1201 –19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kirmiz, J. P. (1962). Adaptations to Desert Environment, Butterworths, LondonGoogle Scholar
  26. Logan, R. J. (1968). Causes, climates and distribution of deserts, in Desert Biology, Vol. 1 (ed. G. W. Brown Jr), Academic Press, New York and London, pp. 21–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. MacMillan, R. E. and Lee, A. K. (1967). Australian desert mice—independence of exogenous water, Science, N.Y., 158, 383–5CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Marshall, A. J. (1961). Breeding seasons and migration, in Biology and Comparative Physiology of Birds, Vol. 2 (ed. A. J. Marshall ), Academic Press, New York and London, chapter 21Google Scholar
  29. Marston, J. H. and Chang, M. C. (1965). The breeding management and reproductive physiology of the Mongolian gerbil (Meriones unguiculatus), Lab. Anim. Care, 15, 34–48PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Negus, N. C. and Berger, P. J. (1972). Environmental factors and reproductive processes in mammalian populations, in Biology of Reproduction, Basic and Clinical Studies, 3rd Pan American Congress on Anatomy, New Orleans, La (ed. J. T. Velardo and B. A. Kasprow ), pp. 89 - 98Google Scholar
  31. Newsome, A. E. (1965). Reproduction in natural populations of the red kangaroo Megaleia rufa (Desmarest) in central Australia, Aust. J. Zool., 13, 735–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Norris, M. L. and Adams, C. E. (1971). Delayed implantation in the Mongolian gerbil, Meriones unguiculatus, J. Reprod. Fert., 27, 486–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Norris, M. L. and Adams, C. E. (1972). Aggressive behaviour and reproduction in the Mongolian gerbil, Meriones unguiculatus, relative to age and sexual experience at pairing, J. Reprod. Fert., 31, 447–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Norris, M. L. and Adams, C. E. (1974). Sexual development in the Mongolian gerbil Meriones unguiculatus with particular reference to the ovary, J. Reprod. Fert., 36, 245–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Pianka, E. R. (1970). On r- and K- selection. Am. Nat., 104, 592–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Pianka, E. R. (1972). r- and K- selection or b and d selection? Am. Nat., 106, 581 - 8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Prakash, I. (1975). The population ecology of the rodents of the Rajasthan desert, India, in Rodents in Desert Environments (ed. I. Prakash and P. K. Ghosh), W. Junk, The Hague, pp. 75–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Prakash, I. and Ghosh, P. K. (1975). Preface, in Rodents in Desert Environments (ed. I. Prakash and P. K. Ghosh ), W. Junk, The Hague, pp. xiii–xvCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Raynaud, A. (1951). Reproduction, en hiver, des campagnols agrestes (Microtus agrestis L.) dans le département du Tarn, Bull. Soc. zool. Fr., 76, 188 - 200Google Scholar
  40. Reichman, O. J. and Van der Graaff, K. M. (1975). Association between ingestion of green vegetation and desert rodent reproduction, J. Mammal., 56, 503–6PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Reynolds, H. G. (1960). Life history notes on Merriam’s kangaroo rat in southern Arizona, J. Mammal., 41, 48–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Ride, W. D. L. (1970). A Guide to the Native Mammals of Australia, Oxford University Press, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
  43. Sadleir, R. M. F. S. (1969). The Ecology of Reproduction in Wild and Domestic Mammals, Methuen, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Schmidt-Nielsen, K. (1964). Desert Animals, Oxford University Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  45. Serventy, D. L. (1971). Biology of desert birds, in Avian Biology, Vol. I (ed. D. S. Farner and J. R. King ), Academic Press, New York and London, chapter 7Google Scholar
  46. Slatyer, R. O. (1962). Climate of the Alice Springs area, Part III, CSIRO Land Res. Ser., No. 6, 109–28Google Scholar
  47. Smith, H. D. and Jorgensen, C. D. (1975). Reproductive biology of North American desert rodents, in Rodents in Desert Environments (ed. I. Prakash and P. K. Ghosh), W. Junk, The Hague, pp. 305–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Smith, J. R., Watts, C. H. S. and Crichton, E. G. (1972). Reproduction in the Australian desert rodents Notomys alexis and Pseudomys australis (Muridae), Aust. Mammal., 1, 1– 7Google Scholar
  49. Telfer, S. and Breed, W. G. (1977). The effect of age on the female reproductive tract of the hopping mouse, Notomys alexis, Aust. J. Zool., 24, 533–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Van der Graaff, K. M. and Balda, R. P. (1973). Importance of green vegetation for reproduction in the kangaroo rat Dipodomys merriami, J. Mammal., 54, 509–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Watts, C. H. S. (1970). The foods eaten by some Australian desert rodents, S. Aust. Nat., 44, 71–4Google Scholar
  52. Yahr, P. and Kessler, S. (1975). Suppression of reproduction in water deprived Mongolian gerbils (Meriones unguiculatus), Biol. Reprod., 12, 249–54PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Dr W. G. Breed 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. G. Breed

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations