Dear fellow animal lovers! What comes to your mind when we talk about a desert? Dryland? Heat? Sand dunes? If you do, you’re not wrong but not particularly correct either. Turn out that only about 1/4 of the world’s deserts are covered in sand. Furthermore, parts of Antarctica and Arctic covered in freezing ice and snow actually also qualify as a desert and known as the largest one. Because a desert, in fact, is determined by how dry it is, not how hot it is.
The most common explanation of what’s desert is an area that receives less than 10 inches of rain annually. This condition makes living conditions are hostile to plant and animal life. Thus, every flora and fauna living in the desert need special adaption to survive in a harsh environment.
Now that we talk about a desert animal, what’s the first thing that comes on your mind? What animals inhabit the desert? Here’s our list of several specific kinds of desert animal we think you must know.
We can’t talk about a desert animal without mentioning camel, right? This gorgeous animal can be noticed right away looking at their humps, the key to their ability to survive in the desert.
However, camels do not directly save water in their humps. They are actually functioning as reservoirs of fatty tissue. By concentrating body fat in their humps, camels can lessen the insulating effect of fat over the rest of their bodies, helping them survive in hot climates. Moreover, once this tissue is metabolized, it produces more than one gram of water for every gram of fat processed. Making camels are able to survive without food and water for days.
Have you watched The Lion King? One of the funniest characters from the movie is Timon, the meerkat! This burrowing animal inhabits the Kalahari Desert of southern Africa. Though the movie may don’t do the justice of meerkats’ representation, they do feed on insects and larvae obtained by scratching and digging the ground surface, like what the movie has shown us.
One fun fact of their survival ability in the desert is meerkats are actually immune to certain types of venom, including the very strong venom of the scorpions of the Kalahari Desert.
- Spotted Hyena
Also known as laughing hyena, they are native to Sub-Saharan Africa. The spotted hyena is the most efficient use of animal matter of all African carnivores. Although spotted hyenas are mainly known as a scavenger with the ability to eat and digest skin, bone and other animal waste, they are primarily hunters. They basically hunt and eat other animals of all types; only avoiding African buffalo and giraffe significantly due to their big size.
Like most of the animal desert, spotted hyenas don’t necessarily drink a lot and can survive days without water.
Ostrich is a species of large flightless bird. Yes, they have wings but cannot fly. However, their inability to fly is covered by their fast running. Ostrich can run for a long time at a speed of 55 km/h, and even up to about 70 km/h when being pursued by a predator, making them the fastest two-legged animal on earth.
Their appearance is quite distinctive, having a long neck, big body covered in feathers, and skinny legs. Ostrich has big eyes which are said to be the largest among any land animal. Their big eyes not only superior in size, but they also have acute eyesight that combined with strong hearing so they can sense predators from far away.
Ostriches are omnivores. Although they eat mostly plants, grasses, foliage, and seeds, sometimes they eat small insects, too. Because they have no teeth, they also swallow pebbles to help them ingest their food.
- Polar Bear
Yup, polar bear also included on the list!
These giant white bears inhabit the freezing Arctic Circle which includes the territory of five nations: Denmark (Greenland), Norway (Svalbard), Russia, the United States (Alaska) and Canada. All the nations above are the signatories of the International Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears, an agreement concerning protection against random and unregular bears’ hunting, research, and conservation efforts throughout their living area.
To survive the extreme cold environment, polar bears are well-insulated thanks to their heavy fur and a thick layer of fat. Moreover, their thick layer of outer hair is made of hollow tubes filled with air that helps them to keep the inner fur from getting wet when they swim in the icy water. Their white fur also happened to help them camouflage in the snow and icy Arctic terrain.
Of course, we can’t forget to add penguin, another flightless bird on our list.
Possibly one of the most lovable animals on earth. The way they waddle along on their hind feet or slide on the ice on their stomachs surely make everyone coo.
Penguins adapt to aquatic life very well. Their wings may not be able to make them fly, but really helpful for swimming. Some said penguins’ swimming looks quite similar to birds’ flight in the air.
Their black backs and white fronts provide excellent camouflage in the water. When swimming, their white stomachs blend into the sky and sunlight above, making it difficult for the ocean predator like orcas to see them. Likewise, their black backs hide them from above because they are hard to distinguish against the water and the dark ocean bed.
All in all, these amazing animals make their way to adapt and survive despite the harsh environment. Of course, this list only shows you a tiny bit of animals living in the deserts. There are still a lot of them that some may haven’t been found at all. Like, who knows? The more we know is the more we know that we actually know nothing, don’t you think?