Small gerbils (lat. Meriones ) - the genus of rodents of the subfamily of the gerbil family of the murine.
Small rodents similar to rats. The maximum body length is 15-18 cm. The muzzle is pointed, eyes are rather large. The ears are big. The tail is pubescent, with elongated hair at the end. The tracks are very similar to rats, but more rounded, the length of the jump is up to 30 cm. The color of the top of the body is monophonic, buffy-sandy, without stripes or spots, only under the eyes, on the cheeks and behind the ears there may be light spots.
Distributed in the desert steppes, semi-deserts and deserts of Eurasia and North Africa. The lifestyle is typical of gerbils. They live in holes, mainly herbivorous. Harm plants that strengthen the sands. The damage to crops is small. They have serious epidemiological significance: a peculiar biocenosis forms in the gerbil burrows, whose invertebrates play a paramount role in the formation of natural foci of zoonotic diseases (zoonotic skin leishmaniasis), including especially dangerous infections (plague).