Ord's kangaroo rats average 26 cm (10 in.) in length, including the long tail. The species inhabits semi-arid grasslands and scrublands in central North America. The northern limits of its distribution include the Great Sand Hills of Saskatchewan and adjacent areas of Alberta.
These nocturnal rodents are primarily granivourous, which means they mostly eat grain. They live in shallow burrows that they dig in loose sand. They also store seeds in underground chambers for later use. Much of their vital water requirements are provided by their food, so they can live for prolonged periods without drinking.
They are solitary animals, quick to defend their territory and food cache. This belligerence is only relaxed during mating or by a female with her unweaned litter. Altercations with other Ord's kangaroo rats are frequent. They engage in combat by leaping into the air and slashing at each other with their powerful hind feet. Ord's kangaroo rats defy more deadly enemies (such as rattlesnakes) from a distance by vigorously kicking sand into their faces. Their powerful hind legs also allow them to flee from danger through a series of 2 m-long (6.5 ft.) hops, similar to those of a kangaroo.