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Fat-tailed Gerbil

* Pachyuromys Duprasis *


Class: Mammalia

Order: Rodentia

Family: Muridae

Subfamily: Gerbillinae

Genus: Pachyuromys

Species: P. Duprasi

Binomial Name: Pachyuromys duprasi

Common English Names:

Fat-tailed Jird, Fat-tailed Rat, Fat tailed Gerbil, and Duprasi.


Status in the wild:

In their wild habitat this species is viewed as common and it’s populations are considered stable and of least concern.

Status in Captivity:

Duprasis are relatively new to the pet trade. They have only been around in captive breeding programs for a couple of decades. When raising them in an attempt to breed them it could be said that Duprasis are considered a specialist animal. Breeding them requires a bit of knowledge and a lot of dedication. Because of their gentle demeanor and care requirements they are a good choice as a single pet for a intermediate animal fancier. Duprasis are becoming increasingly popular and are now becoming more available in many parts of Europe. Lately, quite a few specialist breeders are taking great interest in selectively breeding them. However, here in North America although the demand for them as pets is high, they are still quite rare and very difficult to find. They are still considered quite expensive.

Origin / Natural Distribution:

Duprasis are solitary animals that are naturally found in the deserts and semi-desert regions of the North-western Sahara Deserts in Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and west of the Nile Delta, in north-western Egypt. They live mostly in underground burrows, sometimes up to 1-meter or more, in depth. These burrows are usually located in areas that are minimally vegetated or in areas with rock outcrops. Because of their natural digging habits and their need to burrow, they prefer areas with solid sand substrates or rocky areas with solid-sand, substrate. Duprasis lead a bit of a transient life and will sometimes occupy burrows of other animals. In the wild, they are primarily nocturnal (being most active is night). This could be a way of keeping out of the hot sun and a time when they are less likely to preyed upon by birds of prey.


Duprasis are nothing less than adorable! They have sandy/yellow/apricot fur with a few streaks and tips of grey and they have a white furred underbelly. They have short legs and a flatter but round-ish body type. They have a sharp almost pointed nose that pokes out of a pudgy triangular shaped head. They don’t have much of a noticeable neck but have large oval black eyes that give them an overall cute expression.

Sexual Dimorphism:

At a quick glance you will not be able to know the difference between sexes, as both sexes appear to be alike. However after 5 or 6 weeks of age, upon careful inspection of the genital area and belly region, you can usually see obvious differences between male and female. There is greater distance between the urinary and anal openings - in males versus females. The scrotum of the male, which is located close to the base of the tail, will become more visible. Although not 100% reliable the eight nipples of the female pups are sometimes visible at a very young age. Adult nursing or lactating females will have visible nipples.

Males and females have scent glands. They produce a scent that is not detectable to humans but is to other Duprasis. The scent gland appears larger in males and the dominant male will usually have the largest scent gland. The dominant female will usually have a larger scent gland than junior females of the group.

Average Life Expectancy:

In the wild: A Duprasi is lucky to live until 2 years of age. This can be linked to predation, habitat loss, temperature extremes, famine, parasites and disease.

In Captivity: With proper care a Duprasi can live 4 to 5 years, but have been known to live to 7 years.

Nutritional Requirements / Diet

Duprasis are mostly insectivorous but they could also be considered true omnivores. In the wild, researchers have observed them feeding on plants, seeds and insects. In captivity, Duprasis should be fed mealworms, crickets, silkworms, beetles, and chopped meat. If you prefer not to feed live insects, high quality cat food or insectivorous bird food can be substituted. Various leafy vegetables should be offered on a regular basis. A good quality, hamster seed mix and laboratory rodent blocks should be available at all times. Nuts and fruits should be included as a part of their diet but should be offered sparingly and therefore should be considered a regular treat.

In nature Duprasis consume very little water. Instead, they get most of their water from moisture rich foods and they are able to store some of that moisture in their tails. However because we can not duplicate their dietary requirements in captivity, water must be made available to them at all times.

Branches, twigs, mineral blocks, cuttlebone are rich in vitamins and minerals. Hay because of its high fiber content is also very good for Duprasis. Gnawing on twigs and other hard items is also beneficial for their teeth because Duprasis teeth continue to grow their whole life. Gnawing helps keep their teeth at the right length.


Being that Duprasis are solitary animals they should be housed separately unless they are kept in small family groups consisting of same sex pairs or trios. Always avoid housing closely related animals of the opposite sex together thus avoiding unplanned litters and the possibility of genetic defects that are often associated with inbreeding.

Whenever housing any animal, it is always in their best interest to provide them with the largest home that you can comfortably fit in your own living space. Some breeders house their Duprasis in aquariums with little more than a thin layer of sawdust, a small den and a food dish and think they are providing the animal with everything it needs to survive. Well… it may be surviving but is it thriving! We use 35-gallon aquariums with a tank topper. Then we fill the aquarium with lots of clear plastic tubes and cover them within a couple inches below the top of the aquarium with aspen shavings. In the cage part we hang an exercise wheel, water bottle, lots of platforms and wooden toys. The Duprasis love the tunnels under the aspen but still enjoy resting, in fresh air in the tank-topper part of the aquarium. When you are choosing the perfect habitat for your pet, think it through. Keep in mind that animals rely on their sense of smell, and on hearing what is going on in their environment. Whenever animals are kept in a totally enclosed aquarium, the sound is muffled and noises echo. The humidity is elevated as it has no where to go. The natural odors that animals would find stimulating simply flow right over an enclosed tank. I always tell people purchasing pets from us to think back to their childhood when they ran around the house with a box or a bucket on their heads banging on it to make noise. Remember the drum sounds you heard? Those are the same disturbing sounds that an animal kept in a small enclosed space will hear everyday for the rest of it’s life.

Temperature Requirements:

Duprasis are tropical desert animals that require a warm temperature of between 22 to 25 Celsius all year round. If the temperature fluctuates, they may go into a state of torpor.


Duprasis are very clean animals. They produce very little odor and are constantly grooming themselves. It may be a good idea to provide them with sand to use as a dust bath once or twice a week. Don’t leave the bath in with them as it will become covered with bedding in no time.

Behaviour in Captivity:

Many small exotic animals are best kept as display animals. But, this is not to be said for the Duprasi. They make very good pets. They interact with their owners and really seem to enjoy being let out of their cage. Duprasis are said to have the sweetest, most docile dispositions of all of the small rodent type pets. They are content to stay on your lap and will even learn to roll over to have their bellies scratched. In captivity they have modified their behavior. While they are nocturnal by nature, like many animals kept in captivity, they have adjusted their habits and modified their behaviors. In captivity, they tend to be active throughout the day and they also come out by night. This modified behavior could be do to the lack of predation and a more consistent air temperature. It appears that the Duprasi enjoy taking long naps that tend to follow small bouts of exercise. Duprasis are still considered active and need a fair amount of stimulation. While they are certainly not as hyper as many of their other gerbil cousins, they are still curious and need regular environmental enrichment.


Breeding age for females: 100 –175 days. Breeding age is largely influenced by the time of year the female is born. It also varies according to amount of food available, light and night hours and weather. While a female is able to reproduce when she is 100 days old and sometimes even younger, she may not be mature enough to be a good mother and may even abandon the litter. It is probably better to wait until she is 125 days old (4 months) before she is bred.

Breeding age for males: 60 days. Although the male may be able to reproduce at 60 days it is probably better to wait until he is mature enough to stand up to the female during their unique mating rituals.

Breeding rituals: When introduced, the pair will confront one another, with soft chirps, stomping of the hind feet, and they will often face each other while standing in an upright position. They will appear to be sparring. If the male can withstand the turndowns and challenges from the female, mating may occur. If he cowers, she will likely attack him. If the attack becomes vicious or aggressive it is best to remove the male and attempt to re-introduce them together, at a later date.

Breeding season: Typically breeding season lasts from March to November but Duprasis can breed all year, if conditions are met.Breeding interval: 3 – 4 times annually (2-3 times recommended)

Gestation: 19- 22 days Young are born naked, blind, and almost helpless.

Weaning: 21- 28 days

Average Litter Size: Can have up to 9 but typically have 4 or 5 offspring

Breeding any animal needs a lot of planning! If you are thinking about breeding Duprasis do a lot of research first! Once you learn how challenging it can be, you may want to reconsider. They are a great pet but when breeding is involved they are definitely a specialists animal. You shouldn’t intend to keep the pair together outside of breeding. All Duprasis are territorial but it is the female who is the dominant one of the pair. She will likely attack and perhaps even kill the male, if breeding conditions are not ideal. When introducing a pair, you should be there to step in if needed, in case fighting becomes extreme. Duprasis always stomp, joust and box when they are courting but be prepared! Never keep the male with the female after mating has taken place. The male takes no part of parenting and she will likely attack him and perhaps even cannibalize the babies.

When the right conditions are met female Duprasis make great mothers but getting the conditions just right can be very challenging.

Colour Mutations:

One colour " blue" mutation has been said to show up in Japan. However this might be a juvenile that appeared to be a little grayer but later matured into a normal or wild type pattern. I am sure in time, with more attention on selective breeding, there will be more colour varieties appearing.

Subspecies, Hybrids & Mutations:

Subspecies include Pachyuromys duprasi natronensis from Egypt and Pachyuromys duprasi faroulti, which may not be a subspecies but perhaps a synonym of Pachyuromys duprasi. Being that both subspecies are relatively newcomers to the pet trade there has been a fair bit of confusion in an attempt to accurately identify the two species. There is little doubt that hybrids now exist.

Ailments and Veterinary Requirements:

All animals can benefit from annual visits to a qualified Veterinarian

Costs to consider:

The costs to set up a suitable habitat can vary but you can expect to pay in the neighborhood of 200.00 or more for a setup. A Duprasi will likely cost around 100.00.

Where to purchase:

Ideally Duprasis should be purchased from a small animal Specialist. If you are planning to breed Duprasis, buying your breeding stock from an experienced breeder will likely be worth the investment. They are usually proud of their own animals and can be a great source of information.

It does not matter where you purchase your pet from as long as you have done all of your research first. Only then will you be in a position to make an educated decision and know what you are committing yourself to. Having to re-home your Pet: If you find yourself in an emergency situation and need to rehome your pet, try contacting the breeder to see if they can help. We believe that most ethical breeders will do their best to help. Often, in the case of a real emergency, most conscientious  breeders will offer to take back the animal. This is a good habit that responsible breeders get into not only does it prevent animals from ending up in shelters or sanctuaries it also makes people think twice before abandoning them in the wild.

Clubs, Associations and Breeder links:

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