Value of species
Lagurus lagurus are recorded in Ukraine, Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, China and Mongolia, mainly distributed in plain and mountain steppes and semi-deserts from Dnepr River to Tuva and to Tien Shan in the south. Occurs from sea level to 2,800 m. Regional distribution: Dzungarian Govi Desert, Shargyn Govi in Mongol Altai Mountain Range, Trans Altai Govi Desert and Uvs Lake Depression in northern Great Lakes Depression (Sokolov and Orlov, 1980).
A typical steppe rodent. Very abundant at the beginning of the 20th century in Ukraine (Migulin 1938), but now restricted to easternmost regions. In Russia populations are fragmented, but the species remains a considerable pest of arable and pasture land. Declines in some populations may be related to climate change, specifically to increasingly moist conditions. Since the 1960s, irrigation and planting of trees to protect fields has changed the microclimate for this species.
Inhabits steppes and semi-deserts, where it forms large colonies that dig branched burrows extending over hundreds of square meters. Feeds on narrow-leaved cereals and absinths. Also consumes bulbs, tubers and sometimes insects. Breeds up to six times a year, typically with 5-6 young in each litter (maximum 14). Marked population fluctuations are a characteristic feature of this species; during population peaks it is nomadic.