101 Facts – Desert Animals

101 Facts… Desert Animals! by IP Factly

101 desert animals facts

Over 101 amazing facts about these tough and highly adapted animals

Contents

Introduction
What Is a Desert?
Life in the Desert
Avoiding Heat
Dissipating Body Heat
Obtaining Water
Retaining Water
Other Adaptations
Birds in the Desert
Frogs, Crocodiles and Turtles in the Desert
Insects in the Desert
Lizards in the Desert
Mammals in the Desert
Scorpions and Spiders in the Desert
Snakes in the Desert

Photo Credits

Introduction

Deserts are some of the harshest environments on Earth, making it hard for humans to live there. Some animals, though, have adapted to surviving in the desert and as a result, have become some of the toughest and most fascinating creatures in our world.

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The Harshest View of Desert by cytech cc2.0

What Is a Desert?

A desert is defined as a piece of land where there are no natural bodies of fresh water and where very little rainfall occurs. In fact, deserts receive less than 16 inches (40.6 centimeters) of rain per year. In comparison, some countries in tropical Asia, like India, receive up to 30 inches (76.2 centimeters) of rain each day during the rainy season.

Using this definition, roughly one third of the world’s total land surface area is covered by desert, including the whole continent of Antarctica, which is the world’s largest cold desert. Only about twenty percent of deserts are hot, which is the kind of desert we will be focusing on in this book.

The largest hot desert on Earth is the Sahara, spanning twelve different countries in northern Africa. It has an area of roughly 3.32 million square miles (8.6 million square kilometers).

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The Giant and Scary Sahara Desert by Franzfoto cc3.0

There are hot deserts on every continent, except Europe and Antarctica. Other large hot deserts include the Arabian Desert in the Middle East, the Gobi Desert in China and Mongolia, the Patagonian Desert in South America, the Great Victoria Desert in Australia and the Great Basin Desert in the United States.

The Atacama Desert in South America is the driest place in the world. There, the average rainfall per year is less than an inch (2.5 centimeters) and in some areas, it has never rained at all.

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The Driest of All – The Atacama Desert by Miradas.com.br cc2.0

The word “desert” comes from the Latin word desertum which means “an abandoned place”. The ancient Egyptians also used the word deshret, which refers to the “Red Land”, the opposite of the fertile “Black Land” in Egypt.

Life in the Desert

Because there is only a small amount of water in a desert’s atmosphere, it suffers from extreme temperatures. During the day, it can get as hot as 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 Celsius) because there is nothing to block the sun’s rays. At night, temperatures can drop to 0.4 degrees below zero Fahrenheit (-18 Celsius) because there is nothing to prevent the heat from escaping.

Hot deserts are covered in dust or sand. This is created when mountains are eroded by strong winds. Some of these pile up in dunes while others create sand seas or sand fields.

Sometimes dust storms and sandstorms occur, which is normal in a place where there are few plants covering the soil. These storms occur when the wind blows steadily, blowing sand and dust off the ground and into the air. As these particles land, they hit other objects, sending them into the air as well. The wind-blown particles also become electrically charged, producing sparks and causing interference with telecommunications equipment.

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The Weird Sandstorms by leivandomburg cc2.0

Sandstorms occur less frequently than dust storms but can last up to 4 hours. During a sandstorm, sand particles can rise more than 6 feet (1.8 meters) into the air.

Avoiding Heat

In order to survive in such an environment, desert animals have to do four main things. They have to be able to avoid heat, dissipate body heat (get rid of the heat), obtain water and retain water.

One way for desert animals to avoid the heat of the sun is by being crepuscular or nocturnal. Crepuscular means the animals only come out during dawn and dusk, when there is little sunlight, while nocturnal means the animals only come out at night.

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The Very Being of Nocturnal and Crepuscular in Desert by Stacey.Cavanagh cc2.0

Nocturnal and crepuscular animals generally have large eyes that are well-adapted to seeing in poor light. They also usually have a special layer covering their eyes, called the tapetum lucidum which causes their eyes to glow red. Nocturnal and crepuscular animals also usually have good senses of smell and hearing.

During the day, some desert animals sleep under rocks or in their shade, as well as in the shade of cliffs and plants. Many live in burrows under the ground where it doesn’t get too hot.

Some desert animals even become dormant, sleeping for long periods of time in order to escape the heat. This type of dormancy is called aestivation.

Other desert animals, especially birds, flying insects and large mammals, migrate, moving to cooler parts of the desert, near the coast or up into the mountains.

Dissipating Body Heat

Even when they stay out of the sun, desert animals still generate their own body heat. In order to keep cool, they have to keep getting rid of excess body heat.

The most basic way desert animals get rid of excess body heat is by sweating or panting. Since they cannot bathe, some urinate on themselves to keep cool.

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The Blessed but Not So Blessed Animals in Desert by Argenberg cc2.0

Desert animals have evolved to be specially built for hot temperatures. They have long legs and large ears where the blood vessels are just beneath the skin, allowing their blood to be cooled by the surrounding air. They are also usually light-colored so heat bounces off their bodies.

Birds have different ways to dissipate body heat. They can flex their throats, pant or soar up high with their wings spread out.

Obtaining Water

Many desert animals can survive for a long time without drinking. Instead, they get water from plants or from the animals that they eat. Some can also absorb moisture from the air or from the soil through their skin.

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The Respect for Water in Desert by israeltourism cc2.0

Some desert animals have specialized kidneys which enable them to drink saltwater or to absorb the water from their urine. Others have specialized nostrils, which recapture the moisture from the air each time the animal exhales, so the moisture goes back into the body.

Retaining Water

Once they obtain water, desert animals have to find ways to make it last for as long as possible.

They do not urinate, instead excreting uric acid in the form of a paste.

Some animals also have very thick skin or outer coverings which prevent moisture loss.

Other Adaptations

Most desert animals have feet that are specially made for walking on hot sand. The feet are covered in fur, so it seems like the animal is wearing shoes, and the toes are arranged in such a way that the animal will not easily sink into the sand.

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The Sand Friendly Animals with Happy Feet by casarico cc2.0

Some desert animals also have special adaptations to protect themselves from dust storms and sandstorms. They have specialized nostrils, extra eyelids and long eyelashes that keep sand out.

Birds in the Desert

Among all flying owls, the burrowing owl, which can be found in deserts as well as grasslands, spends the most time on the ground. It nests in underground burrows, hence its name, digging its own when there aren’t any others available, as long as the ground is soft enough.

The cactus wren is the largest of all wrens in North America and is the state bird of Arizona. It gets its name from the fact that it nests in cactus plants, often in holes where its nest is protected by the prickly cactus spines.

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The Thorny Lil Guy – Cactus Wren by bamyers4az cc2.0

The elf owl is another bird that lives inside cacti. When a predator goes inside the cactus, the elf owl plays dead instead of fighting back. It is the lightest owl in the world, weighing just over one ounce (28 grams) on average.

Gila woodpeckers use their strong bills to make holes in cacti, especially the saguaro variety, where they make nests and lay 3 to 5 eggs. These nests are later used by other birds, like the elf owl.

The great Indian bustard is one of the world’s heaviest flying birds. It eats mostly crickets, locusts and beetles and can survive for long periods of time without water, but will drink when water is available.

The greater roadrunner is also known as the snake killer because it can kill small snakes with one blow from its beak or larger snakes by beating them against rocks.

It spends most of its time on the ground, running as fast as 26 miles (41.8 kilometers) per hour – the fastest land speed ever recorded by a flying bird.

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The Dangerous Yet Beautiful, Greater Roadrunner by goingslo cc2.0

The ostrich is the largest living bird, able to stand over 9 feet (2.7 meters) tall and weigh up to 320 pounds (145 kilograms). It is also the fastest runner among birds, able to run at speeds of 43 miles (117.4 kilometers) per hour.

Ostriches can survive for several days without water, getting the water they need from plants. They can also survive the loss of up to twenty-five percent of their body weight through dehydration.

Ostriches live in herds, with all the females in a herd laying their eggs in one nest, but being able to distinguish which ones are theirs. The dominant female chooses which eggs are fit for incubation, discarding the weak ones before covering the nest. She incubates them during the day, using her brown feathers as camouflage, while the male, who can hardly be seen at night because of his black feathers, incubates them at night.

Ostrich eggs are the largest eggs, roughly 5.9 inches (15 centimeters) long and weighing over 3 pounds (1.36 kilograms). They also have very thick shells, preventing them from breaking even when a fully grown man sits on them.

The red-tailed hawk can survive in different habitats, even deserts. About eighty-five percent of its diet is made up of rodents, which it snatches from the ground using its sharp eyesight and strong talons. The red-tailed hawk is known for its hoarse but fierce cry, which is often used in movies.

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The Red-Tailed Hawk with an Uncanny Cry by Beedie’s Photos cc2.0

Turkey vultures feed primarily on carrion, using their sense of smell to pick up the gas produced by decaying animals. They urinate on their legs during hot days to keep themselves cool and can lower their body temperatures at night to conserve energy.

See the following desert birds in action:

Burrowing Owls

Elf Owls

Ostriches

Red-Tailed Hawks

Turkey Vultures

Frogs, Crocodiles and Turtles in the Desert

The Colorado River toad is the largest native toad in the United States, a nocturnal frog which lives in rodent burrows during the day. It is known for its piercing call and for the poison it secretes from the white glands on its legs, which is potent enough to kill a grown dog.

The crucifix toad, or holy cross frog, is named for the distinct cross on its back. In order to survive when there is no water it aestivates (a state similar to hibernation in very dry or hot conditions) sleeping in a cocoon deep under the ground, emerging only when it rains.

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Crucifix Toad or Holy Cross Frog by Mr tuba man88 cc3.0

The crucifix toad displays aposematism, a change in appearance intended as a warning to predators. When threatened, it produces an elastic glue-like substance, which has been proven to be stronger than medical adhesives.

The desert rain frog has bulging eyes that it uses to see well at night when it comes out, and spade-like feet for digging burrows under the ground. It lays its eggs in its burrow, which develop even without water.

The desert tree frog is widely distributed in Australia, found even in its deserts. Instead of burrowing, it hides under rocks or leaves, and when it rains, it lays eggs. Amazingly, the tadpoles develop in just fourteen days, before the water runs out.

Desert tortoises spend about ninety-five percent of their lives in burrows under the ground, becoming dormant from November to March. They have large urinary bladders which can store water up to forty percent of their body weight. Because of this, they can survive more than a year without drinking.

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Mojave Desert Tortoise by USFWS Pacific Southwest Region cc2.0

Desert tortoises do not urinate, to preserve the water in their bladders. They will, however, urinate when startled or threatened, depleting their water supply, and so it is against the law to handle them unless they are in danger.

The flat-headed frog is another expert at storing water. It can store so much water, in fact, that it ends up bloated and shaped like a ball, with only its head staying flat.

The water-holding frog survives periods of hot, dry weather by wrapping itself in a watertight cocoon that it makes using its own skin, and burying itself deep under the ground, eating parts of the cocoon when it gets hungry. It only emerges to breed during rainy season.

The West African crocodile, or desert crocodile, is the only crocodile found far from a permanent source of water. When there is no water, it aestivates and even when it is active, it keeps movement to a minimum, only coming out of its burrow at night.

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West African Crocodile by DigitalFauxtographer cc2.0

See the following frogs, crocodiles and tortoises in action:

Water Holding Frogs

Crucifix Frog

Desert Tortoises

Desert Crocodile

Insects in the Desert

There are roughly 7500 species of blister beetles in the world, many of which can be found in deserts. They are so named because they secrete a substance when threatened that can cause skin blisters.

The common desert centipede can grow up to 7 inches (17.8 centimeters) long and can appear in many colors. Regardless of its color, it has dark stripes on its back, which is why it is also known as the tiger centipede. When it is very hot, it hides under rocks or burrows in rotting logs.

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Centipede by A.Davey cc2.0

The desert cockroach is found in the Colorado Desert. It is able to absorb water vapor from the atmosphere, sometimes absorbing so much that it gains weight.

Alone, a desert locust looks harmless, but in swarms of millions, desert locusts are among the world’s most dangerous insects. A swarm can travel at the speed of wind, covering distances of up to 125 miles (201 kilometers) a day. As they travel, they eat the equivalent of their own weight per day, destroying plenty of crops.

The desert whitetail is a dragonfly that can be found in all the deserts of California, though it flies to cooler areas when it is too hot. It perches on rocks, waiting for mosquitoes and flies to pass by before giving chase.

Dung beetles are scarab beetles that feed mostly on animal feces, not needing to eat or drink anything else, and as such, can survive in the desert. Once they locate a pile of dung, dung beetles roll the dung into a ball and roll it in a straight line – regardless of obstacles in their path – to their burrow. They can roll dung up to ten times their own weight.

Dung Beetle by Andi Gentsch cc2.0

Several species of dung beetles were considered sacred in ancient Egypt. They were linked to Khepri, the god of the rising sun, because the balls of dung they rolled resembled the sun, which Khepri rolled above the horizon each day.

Because food is not always abundant in the desert, harvester ants store as many seeds in their nests as they can find. They get the water they need from these seeds, particularly from the fat they contain.

The Sahara desert ant is considered the most heat tolerant of all animals, able to remain active even when surface temperatures reach 158 degrees Fahrenheit (70 Celsius). Because of this, it goes out to look for food during the hottest time of the day.

When the Sahara desert ant finds food, it uses the sun’s angle to calculate the shortest route back to its nest.

The tarantula hawk is neither a spider nor a bird, but a wasp that hunts tarantulas. It uses its long legs to subdue the tarantula and then stings it, paralyzing it and then dragging it back to its nest. There, it lays a single egg on the spider’s abdomen. When the egg hatches, the larva feeds on the spider until it is strong enough to emerge from the nest and look for food.

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Tarantula Hawk by entogirl cc2.0

Lizards in the Desert

Chuckwallas are large lizards that are well-adapted to desert life, able to remain active at temperatures of up to 102 degrees Fahrenheit (39 Celsius) while hibernating during cooler months.

Male chuckwallas have been observed to do “push-ups”, not to exercise, but to defend their territory.

The desert grassland whiptail lizard can run very fast and amazingly, is believed to be an all-female species, with the eggs developing even without fertilization from a male.

The desert iguana can also withstand high temperatures – up to 109 degrees Fahrenheit (43 Celsius) – so that it is up and about even when other lizards have already retreated to their burrows. It can be found in the deserts of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico.

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The Strong and Sturdy – Desert Iguana by Joshua Tree National Park cc2.0

In spite of their name, desert night lizards are active during the day. They are the only lizards to form social groups, with the young lizards staying with their parents for years.

The desert spiny lizard changes its color depending on the temperature around it. When it is hot, it turns a lighter color to reflect most of the sun’s rays and when it is cool, it becomes darker to absorb more sunlight.

Gila monsters spend about ninety percent of their lifetime in their burrows and when they are out, they move very slowly. They feed mostly on bird and reptile eggs and have such a good sense of smell that they can follow a trail made by an egg rolling down a path or smell eggs buried deep under the soil.

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The Venomous Gila Monster by Iagoarchangel cc2.0

The Gila monster is one of only two venomous lizards. Its venom is as toxic as that of the coral snake, but since it produces only small amounts, its bite is normally not fatal to humans. It can be very painful, though, especially since Gila monsters can hold on for a long time after biting.

The Hardwicke’s spiny-tailed lizard is found in the deserts of India, where it digs zig-zagging or winding burrows under the ground. The spiny-tailed lizard runs to its burrow at the first sign of danger and hibernates in it during winter.

The perentie is the largest monitor lizard in Australia, able to grow over 8 feet (2.4 meters) long. In spite of its size, it is rarely seen, quickly retreating to its burrow in the presence of humans. If cornered, it will strike with its tail, or bite, which can result in a serious infection.

Side-blotched lizards are very common in the deserts of western United States where they serve as prey for numerous species. The males have different colored throats, with the orange-throated males being the most dominant. They are fiercely protective of their mates and will attack humans just to give the females a chance to escape.

The Texas Horned Lizard is the largest of the horned lizards in the United States. When threatened, it will puff up, showing off its spines, and if that fails, it can squirt blood from the corners of its eyes, shooting it up to a distance of 5 feet (1.5 meters) in order to confuse predators.

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Texas Horned Lizard by Bgoodwyn cc3.0

The thorny dragon, or thorny devil, is a spine-covered lizard found only in the deserts of Australia. It can collect moisture, whether from dew or rain, on its skin which it then absorbs or channels to its mouth to drink.

The zebra-tailed lizard gets its name from the black and white bands on its tail, although only males have this. During the hottest part of the day, these lizards stand only on two legs, now and then switching to the other two so it seems as if they are dancing.

See the following lizards in action:

Perentie Lizard

Desert Iguana

Gila Monster

Texas Horned Lizard (Horny Toad)

Thorny dragon

Mammals in the Desert

The addax is an antelope found in the Sahara desert. Its broad hooves allow it to walk across the sand, while its stomach has a special lining that stores water, allowing it to survive without water indefinitely. During the hottest part of the day, addaxes dig depressions in the sand and rest in them, which also protects them from sandstorms.

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Addax in Sahara Desert by amareta kelly cc2.0

The cougar is a highly adaptable wild cat, able to live even in deserts. It is very agile, able to run fast, leap high and climb well. It is not a picky eater, either, eating whatever animal it can catch.

Desert bighorn sheep are heavy-bodied sheep found in deserts, where they have fewer predators. They use their strong horns to break cacti, which they eat along with grasses. They can go without water for weeks, able to survive even after losing thirty percent of their body weight, which they can quickly recover after one drink.

The desert woodrat is a species of pack rat found in the deserts of North America. It can feed on parts of cacti without being injured by the spines. It actually removes the spines and uses them to guard the entrance to its burrow.

Dingoes are wild dogs found mainly in Australia. They live and hunt in packs, able to survive without drinking, as long as prey is sufficient. Even nursing females do not need water since they consume the urine and feces of the cubs.

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Dingoes by Sam Fraser-Smith cc2.0

The Dorcas gazelle can go its entire life without drinking, getting water from the plants it eats. It can also withstand high temperatures, but when it is very hot, it becomes nocturnal.

The dromedary camel is the only animal that can be used as human transport across the desert. It can keep going even in the middle of a sandstorm, its double eyelashes allowing it to keep its eyes open and its nostrils closing to keep sand from going into its lungs. Its ears are lined with hair to keep sand out, as well.

Dromedary camels can lower their body temperature when water is hard to find, so they don’t perspire. Their specialized kidneys allow them to tolerate water loss of up to thirty percent and when water is available, they can quickly rehydrate by drinking 5 gallons (19 liters) per minute.

The fennec fox, which is found in the Sahara desert, has the largest ears of any fox, allowing it to dissipate heat. It also has fur-covered feet which enable it to walk on hot sand, and kidneys that are specially designed to retain water.

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Fennec Fox by Drew Avery

Jerboas are rodents primarily found in hot deserts. They hop instead of run, just like kangaroos, propelling themselves with strong hind legs and using their long tails for balance. When chased, they can go as fast as 15 miles (24 kilometers) per hour.

Jerboas are nocturnal, spending the day in their burrows. They eat plants and insects, depending on them for water. Interestingly, many jerboas kept in captivity refuse to drink even when water is available.

Kangaroo rats are just like jerboas, but can only be found in Australia. The most well-known species, Merriam’s kangaroo rat, has a special way of getting water. It stores seeds in its burrows and instead of eating them right away, leaves them there for a few days so that they can absorb the moisture in the burrow. When it finally eats them, it is able to get the water it needs.

The red kangaroo is the largest of the kangaroos. It eats mostly grass, from which it gets water, conserving it by concentrating its urine. Like other kangaroos, female red kangaroos are almost permanently pregnant, but can freeze the development of the embryo inside when there is little food.

The rock hyrax is a small mammal that can be found all over Africa, even in the Sahara. It looks just like a guinea pig but is not even a rodent. In fact, its closest living relative is the elephant. Rock hyraxes can control their own temperature to balance their water supply and are quite lazy, spending only five percent of their day in activity.

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The Small Lazy Mammal – Rock Hyrax by kevinzim

Round-tailed ground squirrels are quite picky eaters, but it is only because they have to choose the plants with the highest water content – at least eighty percent – in order to survive for months without drinking. They can stay active even on the hottest days, and live underground during winter.

See the following mammals in action:

Addax

Cougar

Coyote

Dingo

Dorcas Gazelle

Dromedary Camel

Fennec Fox

Kangaroo Rat

Rock Hyrax

Red Kangaroos

Scorpions and Spiders in the Desert

The Arizona bark scorpion is a small scorpion commonly found in the deserts of the United States. It is nocturnal, hiding under rocks during the day, and has layers of fat that make it resistant to water loss.

The Arizona blond tarantula or western desert tarantula gets the “blond” in its name from the pale hairs on its carapace which are a contrast to its dark abdomen and legs. It is common in the deserts of Arizona, where it eats mostly grasshoppers, beetles, small lizards and smaller spiders.

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Arizona Blond Tarantula by xoque cc2.0

Arizona blond tarantulas stay in their burrows during the day and all throughout winter. When threatened, they can not only bite and inject venom, but can also bury their abdominal hairs in their predator’s face, which cause irritation and are very difficult to remove.

The Arizona desert hairy scorpion, or giant hairy scorpion, is the largest scorpion in North America, growing over 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) long. It gets its name from the fact that it has large hairs covering its body, which allow it to detect vibrations in the soil. It is a nocturnal, burrowing spider which can be quite aggressive when active.

The deathstalker scorpion is one of the most feared creatures of the desert. This is because it is the third-most venomous scorpions in the world, with its venom capable of killing children and the elderly, as well as humans suffering from heart conditions. Some components of its venom, however, have shown potential for treating brain tumors and diabetes.

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The Very Deadly Deathstalker Scorpion by KimiSan cc3.0

The desert recluse spider lives in the deserts of western United States. It has a potent venom which can cause the death of skin cells within minutes, leaving a nasty wound and in some cases, a serious infection.

The redback spider of the Australian deserts is a member of the genus of spiders known as black widows. Like other black widows, the female kills the male and eats it after mating, storing its sperm, which it uses to fertilize eggs for the next two years.

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Redback Spiders by Wiki.will cc2.0

Redback spiders can be very harmful to humans, causing a syndrome known as latrodectism. Its initial symptoms include pain at the bite site, sweating and goosebumps, which become more serious as time passes, sometimes leading to complications such as seizure and skin infection.

Wind scorpions are also known as sun spiders and camel spiders. There are more than 1000 species of them, most of which can be found in deserts all over the world. They range in size from less than an inch (2.5 centimeters) to up to six inches (15 centimeters), and unlike other scorpions, have no tail. Instead, they have large pincers that can cut an insect in half.

See the following spiders and scorpions in action:

Arizona Blond Tarantula

Black Widow Spider

Deathstalker Scorpion

Snakes in the Desert

The Arizona coral snake is a venomous snake with alternating red and black bands. It is nocturnal, staying underground during the day. When threatened, it will hide its head under its body and raise its tail, tightly curling it and noisily emitting gas – a defensive stance known as “cloacal popping”.

Desert cobras are two species of snakes, one being pure black and the other being black with reddish bars, found in the Middle East. Both are venomous and nocturnal, being most active at midnight. In spite of their potent venom, they prefer to kill their prey through suffocation.

The desert death adder is a highly venomous snake from Australia. It can go without food for days, lying in patient ambush. When prey comes close, it wiggles the tip of its tail, making it look like a worm, and bringing the prey within striking distance.

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Desert Death Adder by sridgway cc2.0

The desert kingsnake is not a venomous snake, but is a powerful constrictor, killing rodents through suffocation, as well as young pit vipers, being immune to their venom. It is docile in the face of humans and will often try to escape or play dead.

Horned vipers are small but venomous vipers, living in the deserts of North Africa and Arabia. In spite of their name, not all of them have horns, which are actually long spine-like scales that they can fold up or down. The reason for the horns remains unknown.

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Horned Vipers by Paul Albertella cc2.0

Horned vipers can sink quickly into loose sand, doing so by rocking their scales back and forth, starting from the tail to the head, until only their eyes and nostrils are exposed.

The inland taipan is often considered the world’s most venomous land snake, able to deliver seven bites in one attack, each bite with enough venom to kill up to 250,000 mice. It is olive green in summer and dark brown in winter.

The king brown snake is the second-longest snake in Australia, growing up to 9.8 feet (2.9 meters) long. Where it is found in the desert, it is a light brown color, which keeps it camouflaged and enables it to reflect most of the sun’s rays, while in cooler areas it is brownish black.

Sand boas are nonvenomous snakes widely distributed in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. They are excellent burrowers, spending most of their time hiding just below the surface of the sand and waiting for prey to pass by. When prey approaches, they erupt out of the sand, deliver a quick bite and then constrict their victim to death.

The sidewinder gets its name from its unusual way of moving across the ground. Instead of moving forward head-first, it moves sideways in a J-shape, especially across windblown desert sand. It is nocturnal during hot months and diurnal – active during the day – in the cooler months.

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Sidewinder by brewbooks cc2.0

Western diamondback rattlesnakes, or desert diamondback rattlesnakes, are aggressive, venomous snakes believed to be responsible for many snakebite fatalities in the United States and Mexico. They hunt at night or in the early morning, but remain inactive when it is too cold, even hibernating during winter.

See the following snakes in action:

Horned Viper

Inland Taipan

Sidewinder

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

 

Photo Credits

Image01 The Harshest View of Desert by cytech cc2.0 www.flickr.com/photos/cytech/9576549/sizes/o/ Image02 The Giant ans Scary Sahara Desert by Franzfoto cc3.0 commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Alfejej_-_Wanderd%C3%BCnen.jpg Image03 The Driest of All – The Atacama Desert by Miradas.com.br cc2.0 www.flickr.com/photos/galeria_miradas/5816133240/sizes/l Image04 The Weird Sandstorms by leivandomburg cc2.0 www.flickr.com/photos/leivandomburg/3854444355/sizes/o/ Image05 The Very Being of Nocturnal and Crepuscular in Desert by stacey.cavanagh cc2.0 www.flickr.com/photos/staceycav/9032806521/sizes/l Image06 The Blessed but Not So Blessed Animals in Desert by Argenberg cc2.0 www.flickr.com/photos/argenberg/897398432/sizes/l Image07 The Respect for Water in Desert by israeltourism cc2.0 www.flickr.com/photos/visitisrael/6213754188/sizes/l Image08 The Sand Friendly Animals with Happy Feets by casarico cc2.0 www.flickr.com/photos/casarico/287686611/sizes/l Image09 The Thorny Lil Guy – Cactus Wren by bamyers4az cc2.0 www.flickr.com/photos/bamyers4az/6043506276/sizes/l Image10 The Dangerous Yet Beautiful Rreater Roadrunner by goingslo cc2.0 www.flickr.com/photos/goingslo/8182913559/sizes/l Image11 The Red-Tailed Hawk with an Uncanny Cry by Beedie’s Photos cc2.0 www.flickr.com/photos/queceus/7633346994/sizes/l Image12 The Very Dynamic and Distinctive Specie – Crucifix Toad or Holy Cross Frog by Mr tuba man88 cc3.0 commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Holy_Cross_Frog.jpg Image13 The Strange Beast – Mojave Desert Tortoise by USFWS Pacific Southwest Region cc2.0 www.flickr.com/photos/usfws_pacificsw/6079791590/sizes/l Image14 The Rough and Tough Desert Crocodile – West African Crocodile by DigitalFauxtographer cc2.0 www.flickr.com/photos/digitalfauxtographer/6817062480/sizes/c/ Image15 The Creepy Specie – Centipede by A.Davey cc2.0 www.flickr.com/photos/adavey/5051703601/sizes/z/ Image16 The Depended – Dung Beetle Having Food by Andi Gentsch cc2.0 www.flickr.com/photos/elgentscho/6883404352/sizes/l Image17 The Beautiful but Weird – Tarantula Hawk by entogirl cc2.0 www.flickr.com/photos/entogirl/9533333549/sizes/z/ Image18 The Strong and Sturdy – Desert Iguana by Joshua Tree National Park cc2.0 www.flickr.com/photos/joshuatreenp/12488892225/sizes/c/ Image19 The Very Poisonous Swine – Gila Monster by iagoarchangel cc2.0 www.flickr.com/photos/iagoarchangel/8607291411/sizes/l Image20 The Very Unusual and Tricky – Texas Horned Lizard by Bgoodwyn cc3.0 commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:TexasHornedLizard.jpg Image21 The Long-Lasting – Addax in Sahara Desert by amareta kelly cc2.0 www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6265500502/sizes/o/ Image22 The Wild and Unite – Dingoes by Sam Fraser-Smith cc2.0 www.flickr.com/photos/samfrasersmith/3637002514/sizes/l/ Image23 The Beautiful Beast – Fennec Fox by Drew Avery www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/4339376480/sizes/z/ Image24 The Small Lazy Mammal – Rock Hyrax by kevinzim www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/10180261/sizes/z/ Image25 The Angry Bold Specie of Desert – Arizona Blond Tarantula by xoque cc2.0 www.flickr.com/photos/xoque/7560167538/sizes/l Image26 The Very Deadly and Scary – Deathstalker Scorpion by KimiSan cc3.0 commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Deathstalker-israel.jpg Image27 The Black Widow – Redback Spiders by Wiki.will cc2.0 www.flickr.com/photos/wikiwill/3565053908/sizes/o/ Image28 The Diplomatic – Desert Death Adder by sridgway cc2.0 www.flickr.com/photos/stephanridgway/455011440/sizes/o/ Image29 The Unique and Deadly Snake – Horned Vipers by Paul Albertella cc2.0 www.flickr.com/photos/paulspace/7071640051/sizes/c/ Image30 The Unusual Nocturnal Snake – Sidewinder by brewbooks cc2.0 www.flickr.com/photos/brewbooks/4783224535/sizes/l

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