Introduction - Desert Animal FactsExtreme heat and small amounts of water make survival in the desert incredibly difficult. However many species of animals have adapted to and thrive in these harsh regions. In this section of Interesting Animal Facts you will find numerous desert animal facts. These facts will range from basic and scientific to amazing and weird. You will find information on what animals live in the desert biomes and how these animals survive. You will find list of animals from deserts all around the world including the Sahara, Mojave, Kalahari, Gobi, and Arabian deserts. The below information is written for kids and adults.
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Basic Desert Animal Facts
- The scientific name for an animal that lives in a desert is Xerocole.
- To avoid the intense daytime heat most desert animals are primarily active at night (nocturnal) or during dawn and dusk (crepuscular).
- Desert animals are very adept at obtaining water. Many eat plants filled with water. They often wait until nighttime to dine because this is when the water content is the highest in the plants. Predators obtain water from their prey's meat and blood.
- Animals that survive in the desert are also very efficient at storing and conserving water. In fact camels will often obtain enough water from eating plants in the winter to go two months without water.
- Desert animals generally have a light sandy color. This color helps reflect sunlight and minimizes the absorption of heat.
- Animals that inhabit deserts generally have much less fat than non-desert animals. Fat serves as insulation and would retain heat.
- Many desert animals have thick coats of fur with small patches of thin fur or skin in certain areas called "thermal windows". The fur limits the heat that reaches the body. The "thermal windows" allow for heat to be dissipated from the body. Thermal windows are usually on shaded areas of the body, like the belly.
- Small desert animals dig burrows to live in. These burrows become microenvironments, cooler during the hot days and warmer during the cold desert nights.
- To protect themselves from the heat many desert animals, especially rodents, become inactive in the hot summer months. They enter a dormant state called estivation which results in a lower metabolic rate.
- Many animals in the desert are fast and efficient runners. It is often necessary to travel long distances for water and food; their speed helps them travel these distances quickly. For many of the desert animals speed is also crucial in escaping from predators. For example most predators will not even attempt to catch the speedy desert jackrabbit.
- Like many aspects of their bodies many animals that live in the desert have feet that are made for desert living. Many animals like the camel and addax have big feet which enables them to walk on sand without sinking. Other desert animals have extra fur on the bottoms of their feet which serves as protection from the hot sand.