We explain everything about the animals that live in the desert, some examples and the main characteristics of these animals.
What are the desert animals?
The deserts are quite common ecoregions on our planet , which can occur in climates warm (hot deserts) and cold (frozen deserts), characterized by its brutal lack of moisture. In them the rains are very occasional or zero, and the soil is therefore dry, dry, hard. This does not prevent, however, that there is fauna and flora in them , that is, desert plants and animals adapted to such harsh conditions of existence .
Contrary to what was once thought, desert animals are not scarce, although not very diverse , especially when compared to the enormous variety of creatures that inhabit other regions such as forests and forests . This is because desert vegetation has few water resources to abound, so it grows at a slower pace, usually without foliage, thus providing animals with few opportunities to , among other things, protect themselves from sunlight and wind, the latter being an important source of erosion .
Desert animals are part of the amazing fauna of our planet and suffer from the effects of climate change and pollution as much as any other living being from any other habitat , since over millions of years they have adapted to the conditions of current life. This is despite the fact that in the deserts, luckily for them, human life is truly scarce.
Let’s see what some of them are:
Camels are iconic animals of the desert habitat. They are very well adapted to the harsh living conditions of these spaces, they can suddenly take about 180 liters of water , and then spend up to 10 days without tasting a drop .
They have a characteristic hump in the middle of the loin, which can be single (dromedary) or double (Bactrian camel). This hump, contrary to what is thought, is not a reserve of water, but of essential fats to maintain body energy. It is an animal designed to withstand long walks , which is why it was used as a beast of burden by the inhabitants of the Saharan desert and its adjacencies.
The food chain in the deserts is much more desperate than in other habitats, given that species are not abundant and predators do not usually have second chances. Therefore, hunters such as scorpions have evolved to surprise their prey and inject their venom with the sting they have in their tails, or holding them with the sturdy frontal pliers they possess. These arachnids abound in the desert biome , among which are some of the most poisonous species known.
Frequent in American desert climates, although its preferred habitat is coastal and forest, this snake is well known for the sound it produces with its tail , at the end of which it has a rattle, from which its name comes.
In an auspicious environment , a rattle can grow up to 2.5 meters long and 4 kg in weight . Its potent hemototoxic venom is the most dangerous of all North American snakes.
The Dingo dog
This type of northern Australian canine is a real threat to children and domestic species, since despite being a desert dweller, it usually approaches urban areas in search of food .
It is a subspecies of wolf, yellowish fur and characteristics similar to modern dogs . Most of their lives are lived alone, but occasionally they are formed herds whose purpose is to socialize and reproduce.
The Sahara Ostrich
Also known as a red-necked ostrich, it is a common inhabitant of the steppes and deserts of North Africa. It is the most robust of all ostrich subspecies , the one that best supports the absence of water and the one that can run the fastest.
Its name comes from the pinkish coloration of its neck and legs, but the rest of its fur is black with white trim on the tip of the wings. It is, however, an animal critically threatened with extinction , of which only a few copies remain.
Famous for its appearance in cartoons, the coyote is a predatory canid of the deserts of North America , as well as Central America.
Coyotes are particularly solitary animals, live around 6 years and have a gray coat that covers a particularly slender body, which at first sight seems malnourished. However, its diet is omnivorous, being able to eat fruits, carrion, small species, garbage and small insects.
Characteristics of desert animals
Desert animals have developed various physical, biochemical or behavioral capacities over millions of years of evolution that allow them to survive and reproduce in a habitat as challenging as the desert. It is, as it was said, little varied and not very abundant compared to other terrestrial ecosystems , and consists mainly of insects, arachnids, reptiles , birds and some mammals, generally of small size.
Many of these animals have nocturnal habits, when the sun goes down and temperatures drop considerably. That is why they hide during the day, within the most abundant vegetation (cacti and shrubs) or under the sand itself, looking for the freshness of the depths. It is also usual that they have insulating layers to protect themselves from the sun and desiccation, or water reserves in various body organs to spend long periods without drinking.
Given the low abundance of organic matter , the predominance of carnivorous animals and scavengers is notorious ; and in the case of herbivores, nomadic, wandering packs.
Examples of warm desert animals
Below is a list of warm desert animals:
- Bactrian camel ( Camelus bactrianus )
- Dromedary ( Camelus dromedarius )
- Red-necked Ostrich ( Struthio camelus camelus )
- Roadrunner bird ( Geococcyx californianus )
- African Dorcas Gazelle ( Gazella dorcas )
- Coyote ( Canis latrans )
- Australian Dingo ( Canis lupus dingo )
- American black vulture ( Coragyps atratus )
- Adax ( Addax nasomaculatus )
- Fat-tailed scorpion ( Androctonus australis )
- Yellow Palestinian Scorpion ( Leiurus quinquestriatus )
- Emperor Scorpion ( Pandinus imperator )
- Armadillo lizard ( Ouroborus cataphractus )
- Thorny Devil ( Moloch horridus )
- Mojave Desert Turtle ( Gopherus agassizii )
- Mojave Rattlesnake ( Crotalus scutulatus )
- Egyptian cobra ( Naja haje )
- Camel spider ( Gluvia dorsalis )
- Common Vulture ( Aegypius monachus )
- Woodpecker of the desert ( Melanerpes uropygialis )
- Desert thicket ( Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus )
- Sonora owl ( Tyto alba )
- Pharaoh owl ( Bubo ascalaphus )
- Western desert tarantula ( Aphonopelma chalcodes )
- Namibian beetle ( Stenocara gracilipes )
- Wasp hunting tarantulas ( Pepsis formosa )
- Northern bat ( Eptesicus nilsonii )
- Red kangaroo ( Macropus rufus )
- Desert iguana ( Dipsosaurus dorsal )
- Puma or American lion ( Puma condonor )
- Desert Rat ( Psammomys obesus )
- Antelope Hare ( Lepus alleni )
- Long- eared fox ( Otocyon megalotis )
- Fénec ( Vulpes zerda )
- Cape Fox ( Vulpes chama )
- Saline Laucha ( Salinomys delicatus )
In the case of frozen deserts or polar deserts, wildlife is much scarcer, and tends to live in regions near the sea.