Wagner’s gerbil (Gerbillus dasyurus)

Wagner's gerbil on ground
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Wagner’s gerbil fact file

Wagner’s gerbil description

GenusGerbillus (1)

Also known as Wagner's dipodil or the rough-tailed dipodil (4), Wagner’s gerbil is a medium-sized and slender rodent with a silky coat (5). The hair on the upperparts of Wagner’s gerbil is sandy-brown in colour and grey at the base, and the underside is white (6). The tail is covered in short, coarse hairs, apart from the tip which possesses a tuft of finer hair. Two subspecies are recognised: Gerbillus dasyurus dasyurus and Gerbillus dasyurus leosollicitus. G. d. leosollicitus is typically the darker of the two subspecies, although the colour of the fur varies in accordance to its precise habitat, providing optimum camouflage (2). Male Wagner’s gerbils are generally larger and heavier than females (7).

Head-body length: 7 - 11 cm (2)
Tail length: 8.4 – 14.5 cm (2)
27 g (3)

Wagner’s gerbil biology

Wagner’s gerbil is a nocturnal, burrowing rodent (1), with a varied diet that includes insects, seeds, succulent plants and herbs (2). Unlike other gerbil species, Wagner’s gerbil also has an astonishing preference for snails (8), and snail shells often litter the surrounds of the burrow (9). Wagner’s gerbil has a fascinating way of communicating with other members of the same species, making sounds by kicking the ground with its hind feet (3).

The breeding season of Wagner’s gerbil typically falls between January and September (3), but can extend to November (7). Approximately three litters, of between three and nine young, are produced each year (3), born after a gestation period of 18 to 26 days (2) (7). Born blind, naked and with closed ears, young Wagner’s gerbils only begin to grow hair at six days old and open their eyes and ears at around 16 days. Weaning takes place at 32 days after birth and pups become independent from their mothers when they are around five weeks old (3). Both sexes have a lifespan of up to two and a half years (7).


Wagner’s gerbil range

Wagner’s gerbil is widespread in the Middle East. Its range includes Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, the Arabian Peninsula, and the eastern deserts of Egypt (1).


Wagner’s gerbil habitat

This species inhabits a diverse range of habitats including mountainous areas (up to 2,000 metres) (2), rocky hills, semi-desert and desert (1).


Wagner’s gerbil status

Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern


Wagner’s gerbil threats

There are currently no major threats to this species (1).


Wagner’s gerbil conservation

There are no specific conservation measures in place for Wagner’s gerbil. It is, however, found in protected areas in Israel (1).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi is a principal sponsor of ARKive. EAD is working to protect and conserve the environment as well as promoting sustainable development in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.


This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

This species information was authored as part of the Arkive and Universities Scheme.


The state of being pregnant; the period from conception to birth.
Active at night.
A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.


  1. IUCN Red List (November 2009)
  2. Qumsiyeh, M.B. (1996) Mammals of the Holy Land. Texas Tech University Press, Texas.
  3. Çolak, E., Sozen, M., Yigit, N. and Özkurt, S. (1999) Observations on the Reproductive Biology of Gerbillus dasyurus (Wagner, 1842) (Mammalia: Rodentia) in Turkey.Turkish Journal of Zoology, 23: 243-246.
  4. Wilson, D.E. and Reeder, D.M. (2005) Mammal Species of the World: a Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.
  5. Hoath, R. (2008) A Field Guide to the Mammals of Egypt. The American University in Cairo Press, Cairo.
  6. Harrison, D.L. (1956) Gerbils from Iraq, with description of a new gerbil. Journal of Mammalogy, 37(3): 417-422.
  7. Shenbrot, I.G., Krasnov, R.B. and Khoklova, S.I. (1997) Biology of Wagner’s gerbil Gerbillus dasyurus (Wagner, 1842) (Rodentia: Gerbillidae) in the Negev Highlands, Israel. Mammalia, 61(4): 467-486.
  8. Scott, T. (1995) Concise Encyclopedia Biology. Walter de Gruyter, Germany.
  9. Ward, D. and Slotow, R. (1992) The effects of water availability on the life history of the desert snail, Trochoidea seetzeni, an experimental field manipulation. Oecologia, 90(4): 572-580.

Image credit

Wagner's gerbil on ground  
Wagner's gerbil on ground

© David Hosking / www.flpa-images.co.uk

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