The gracile tateril or slender gerbil (Taterillus gracilis) is a species of gerbil found in Burkina Faso, Chad, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, and possibly Cameroon. Its natural habitats are dry savanna, arable land, pastureland, and rural gardens. It is a common species, sometimes considered an agricultural pest, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has rated its conservation status as being of "least concern".
The gracile tateril is a small to medium-sized gerbil with a head-and-body length averaging 115 mm (4.5 in) and a tail averaging 156 mm (6.1 in). The muzzle is pointed and often has dark markings, the cheeks are white and there are white patches above and behind the eye. The eyes are large and the ears are long. The upper parts of the body are yellowish-brown or reddish-brown, the individual hairs having grey shafts, and golden yellow or orange-brown tips. The underparts are whitish, the hairs being grey near the base and white near the tip. The two areas of colour are clearly demarcated on the flanks. The feet are pale on the upper surface and the hind feet are dark and nearly naked below. The tail is clad in short hairs and has a bushy, dark-coloured "pencil" at its tip.
Distribution and habitat
The gracile tateril has a wide distribution in Africa south of the Sahara Desert. Its range extends from Senegal in the west to Nigeria and western Chad. Its typical habitat is dry savannah woodland and scrubland where the annual precipitation is at least 400 mm (16 in). It appreciates soils rich in clay and is often found in areas supporting trees and shrubs in the Combretaceae family.
The gracile tateril is nocturnal. It excavates a simple, unbranched and rather vertical, burrow. It is an omnivore, feeding mostly on seeds, leaves and stems, but also consuming insects, especially in the dry season. At this time of year it makes use of the bodily reserves of fat it has built up during the wet season.
- Granjon, L. (2008). "Taterillus gracilis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
- Jonathan Kingdon; David Happold; Thomas Butynski; Michael Hoffmann; Meredith Happold; Jan Kalina (2013). Mammals of Africa. A&C Black. pp. 353–354. ISBN 978-1-4081-8996-2.
- Musser, G. G. and M. D. Carleton. 2005. Superfamily Muroidea. pp. 894–1531 in Mammal Species of the World a Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. D. E. Wilson and D. M. Reeder eds. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.