Desert animalsPosted on May 18, 2018 - Last modified: September 8, 2018
Desert animals inhabit some of the driest biomes with intense sun rays, very little rainfall and living with the most dangerous animals. Temperatures throughout the day are the highest on the planet, reaching below zero at night until they boil in the middle of the day. Each year, only about 250 mm of rain falls.
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Types of deserts
There are two types of deserts, hot deserts found on both sides of the tropics, and semi-deserts found on continents, far from tropical regions. The main difference is that in a semi-desert it receives at least twice as much annual rainfall as a hot desert.
Desert animal adaptations
The animals that live in the desert have a very sacrificial life since they must endure high temperatures, days without water and food shortages. But that hasn't stopped life from emerging.
Although it is believed that there is very little life in them, most desert animals are nocturnal, coming out only at night when it is cooler and more bearable to live.
Survive without water
In the desert there is a great shortage of water and every drop counts. That is why some animals have developed adaptations to survive.
- The roadrunner has a digestive system that extracts water from the feces before excretion.
- The Dorcas gazelle survives without ever drinking water or urinating, obtaining it from its food and expelling only uric acid.
- The desert lizard is able to absorb rainwater or wet sand through its skin.
- The sand grouse has feathers that observe the water to carry them to their nest.
- Camels' humps store fat, not water, to turn it into food and water.
Facing the desert
- Some animals have an insulating layer to prevent heat from entering their body.
- When the temperature is high, they begin to pant and sweat to cool down.
- Some animals survive by digging large tunnels below the ground, where the sand is cooler.
- The winding snake is able, through a rapid twisting movement, that only two small parts of its body touch the ground and thus avoid touching the hot sand excessively.
- Sandfish are covered in tough membranes to protect themselves from sand.
- The camel and jerboa can close their nostrils to prevent sand from entering.
- The camel has eyelashes to clean the sand from its eyes.
- The sand cat has developed claws that do not fully retract, allowing it to glide through the sand without burning its feet.
- The mandrill escapes from its predators by hiding under rocks.
- When the intense rays of the sun hit the furry ground squirrel it holds its bushy tail to create shade.
- The “dark circles” of meerkats allow them to absorb sunlight and thus avoid being blinded by predators.
- During times of drought, the African Pixie Frog burrows underground and covers itself with a mucous membrane where it can hibernate safely for up to seven years.
- Birds extract nectar from cacti, while others use them for protection.