Deserts are large hostile environments that are found in many parts of the world. They are barren areas of land that get very little rainfall per year. There are 4 categories of desert:
- Subtropical Deserts which are the hottest and driest.
- Cool Coastal Deserts which are cooler due to being near the ocean.
- Cold Winter Deserts have temperatures that change from very hot to very cold in different seasons.
- Polar Deserts which have freezing temperatures.
Most of the amazing animals in this post are from the hotter climate deserts such as the Subtropical and Coastal deserts.
Around one third of the Earth’s surface is covered in deserts but only 20% of them are covered in sand. There are over 30 major deserts, not including the smaller ones, and all of them have some form of animal and plant life.
So how does an animal survive in such extreme conditions? What type of animals could even endure the hot sun during the day and the freezing cold during the night? What about those really strange looking sea creatures that live in the oceans of the coastal deserts?
01. Horned Viper
Desert Horned Vipers are hard to find because they bury themselves in the sand to protect themselves from the desert heat. They have horns that stick out above their eyes for protection especially when they burrow underground. They can’t dig holes though; they borrow the holes created by other desert animals like lizards.
Fun fact: When threatened, Desert Horned Vipers will rub their scales together to produce a saw-like sound.
02. Dung Beetle
Dung beetles survive by eating the feces of other animals. They find it using their keen sense of smell. They usually stay where the feces are, but if they’re taking care of children they roll it around and take it home.
Fun fact: Dung beetles are suspected to navigate by looking at the sky. They use the galaxy as their guide especially when bringing their rolled feces home.
03. Fennec Fox
The Fennec fox is the world’s smallest fox, standing only at about eight inches tall. They have large, six-inch ears for finding prey underground. Their furry paws protect them from the hot sand. They usually burrow underground in the morning when it’s hot and come out to hunt at night when it’s cold.
Fun fact: Fennec foxes can live without water indefinitely and can survive on the moisture they get from their food.
04. Deathstalker Scorpion
Deathstalker scorpions get their name from their highly toxic venom. Their pinchers aren’t very powerful but a sting from them can be very fatal. Their colors depend on where they live in, primarily because they want to blend in so they don’t get seen.
Fun fact: The smaller the pincers of the Deathstalker scorpion, the more poisonous the venom is.
05. Monitor Lizard
Monitor lizards are often very large creatures that can grow up to seven feet long. Most of them are great swimmers and have strong claws and tails for lashing out prey. They’re very intelligent and some people even say that they recognize their owners.
Fun fact: Monitor lizards have forked tongues they use for detecting the scents of their prey.
06. The Jerboa
Jerboas are small, mouse-like animals with very large ears. The color of their fur coat depends on their environment to help hide them from predators. They’re pretty shy and will often live on their own burrow.
Fun fact: Even with a maximum of about six inches, Jerboas can jump up to about ten feet when threatened by a predator.
07. Honeypot Ant
It’s pretty hard to find food in the desert so when honeypot ants find food they turn themselves into storage pots and eat as much as they can. They can feed other hungry ants from the same colony by throwing up into the hungry ant’s mouth.
Fun fact: When Honeypot ants have eaten enough food, they hang on walls to wait for other hungry ants to feed.
08. Australian Thorny Devil
Australian thorny devils truly deserve their name because of their scaly, rough, spiky skin. Despite their intimidating appearance, they’re pretty small and eat about 3,000 ants a day. They have a false, spiky head that acts as a decoy to keep away predators
Fun fact: Australian thorny devils get water by moving around moist places and allowing their body to move the water to their mouths.
09. Desert Kit Fox
Desert kit foxes are furry little animals that have yellowish sandy coats to help blend in the desert environment. They can have quick bursts of speed, but they can’t run for too long. They usually hunt their prey by either stalking them or digging them out from their burrows.
Fun fact: Desert kit foxes hide in dens created by other animals or even humans as protection from the winter or the summer.
10. Red Tailed Hawk
Red tailed hawks are carnivorous birds whose diet consists mostly of rodents. They tend to have the same territories throughout their lives and rarely migrate. They create nests that other small birds sometimes rest in.
Fun fact: Red tailed hawks make shrill sounds that are often used as raptor sounds in movies.
Shrews are mole-like mammals very fragile in nature. Their heart beats at about 800 times a minute and could easily be startled to death literally by sudden noise. They won’t make it through the day without eating because of their fast metabolism.
Fun fact: Shrews could eat up to 2-3 times its own weight in food and will have to keep eating to stay alive.
12. Sloth Bear
Sloth bears are long-haired, fuzzy bears that have long snouts and strong claws for digging and sucking up insects. They’re pretty active during the night noisily ravaging trees and other debris for fruits and insects.
Fun fact: The noise sloth bears make when they eat can be heard from over 300 feet away due to the flaps of their nose preventing dirt from mixing with its food.
Rock hyraxes are relatives of manatees and dugongs despite looking like giant rodents. They’re usually found in rock formations and other hard to reach areas. They are very territorial and have glands on their backs that secrete odors to mark their territories.
Fun fact: Rock hyraxes can compose complex songs with different sounds like birds. They do this usually for territorial reasons.
Meerkats are highly social mongooses often found living in packs. They have excellent long-range eyesight for guarding and foraging although their short-rage eyesight is quite poor. They are immune to the poison from snakes and scorpions.
Fun fact: Meerkats could whip up a cloud of dust to protect themselves from predators and can easily dash for cover, running up to 37 miles per hour.
15. Greater Roadrunner
Greater roadrunners are interesting birds that come from a family of cuckoos. They can run up to 20 miles per hour and can fly for a very short time. They eat various animals such as mice, lizards, and even poisonous snakes and scorpions.
Fun fact: Greater roadrunners can hunt down and eat rattlesnakes by finding another roadrunner to distract the snake while it aims for its head.
Chuckwallas are large lizards that enjoy hiding in rocky places. The males excrete scent through their glands to mark their territory and will not tolerate other males from entering their territory. They mostly eat plants but will start eating insects if they can’t find enough vegetation.
Fun fact: When running away isn’t enough to keep away predators, they inflate their stomachs while in-between rocks to keep them from being pulled away.
17. Kangaroo Rat
Kangaroo rats are actually small rodents that hop a lot like a kangaroos. Unlike most kangaroos, they don’t keep their babies in their pouches; the pouches outside their cheeks are used to bring food back to their homes. They live in very organized burrows that have specific chambers for eating, sleeping, etc.
Fun fact: Kangaroo rats can convert the seeds they eat into water whenever needed.
Caracals are small cats sometimes called “Desert lynxes” or “African lynxes”. They have large ears to help them detect prey miles away. They hunt during the night and sleep during the day so they won’t suffer in the desert heat.
Fun fact: Caracals can live for a long time without drinking water by getting moisture from their prey.
19. Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine falcons are one of the largest species of birds known to exist. They often feed on small birds and ducks and will often catch them mid-air. A lot of them now live in cities where the buildings are tall enough to build a nest in.
Fun fact: Peregrine falcons can reach 200 miles per hour when they swoop down to catch their prey. This makes them one of the fastest animals on record.
Locusts are pretty famous due to their invasions on farms. They could easily jump up to as high as 2.3 feet and some could even fly at a speed of about 10 miles per hour. The desert locust can cover as much as about 460 square miles in swarm.
Fun fact: When locusts bump into each other, a swarm begins and eventually the next generations start changing their shape and color.
21. Walking Stick
Walking sticks blend into the environment because of their grass or wood-like appearance. Their diet consists of plant leaves or stems, which they eat at night. They can let go of their limbs when a predator tries to grab it and regenerate a new one.
Fun fact: Eggs of walking sticks are also camouflaged, often colored brown.