What Are Some Animals That Live in the Desert?

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Camels, fennec foxes, ostriches, monitor lizards and Dorcas gazelles are just a few of the animals that call the desert home. Wolf spiders, Gila woodpeckers, burrowing owls, kangaroo rats and roadrunners are among the smaller residents of one of the world’s driest habitats.

Animals that live in the desert possess special adaptations enabling them to survive the prolonged heat and lack of food and water in the desert environment. Camels drink a lot of water when they come across it, and can survive for up to two weeks without drinking. They also store extra fat in their humps, which function as food reserves for scarcer times. The body temperature of camels follows that of the outside air in order to prevent sweating and panting.

Some animals cope with the heat by burrowing into the ground, such as the fittingly-named burrowing owl, as well as the kangaroo rat and several species of lizards. The burrows protect these creatures from the daytime heat. Once the desert landscape cools at night, they venture out to find food.

A few animals, such as the Gila woodpecker, make their burrows not in the ground, but above ground. Because of the lack of trees in the desert environment, these creatures make use of cacti, which also provide a certain level of protection.