Despite having a reputation of being a barren wasteland, the desert environment, from the hot Sahara to the frozen deserts of the Arctic, displays remarkable diversity of animal life. Desert animals adapt to their harsh environment through special physical and behavioral characteristics.Continue Reading
Some desert creatures survive through bodily adaptation. For example, the Fennec fox has unusually large ears that act as a ventilation system to cool down the creature. The hump on a camel's back stores extra fat as an energy source when food becomes hard to come by.
One common behavioral characteristic of animals in hot desert regions is their tendency to be active only at night, effectively shielding themselves from the daytime sun and high temperatures. Snakes, scorpions and other such creatures either make or search out burrows and caves to sleep in during the day. Some birds retire to cavities inside of cacti, thereby being doubly protected against heat and against predators unwilling to scale a cactus's prickly body.
Many animals adopt additional special behaviors to survive. The tiny mouse-like Jerboa gets all of the water it needs from its food, thus eliminating the need to travel in search of water. The sidewinder snake moves quickly across the desert's challenging sand floor by means of a sideways slithering motion. Birds save energy while in the air by soaring rather than flapping their wings.Learn more about Lizards