Desert biomes has the lowest rainfall and the driest among all the biomes. Most deserts receive 30 mm of annual rain compared to 2,000 mm for the rainforest. Due to severe desert conditions, plants (and animals) need to survive and adapt to make up for the low water supply .
Below are information about animals that are found in the harsh environment:
The Armadillo Lizard is a ground dwelling lizard that is active during daytime and feeds on various insects. The lizard’s body has a length of 15-17 inches, the tail is 14-16 inches long and weighs 18-17 pounds. When threatened by predators, it has the ability to squeeze in small spaces to escape and can roll itself to protect its belly. It’s spiny scales all throughout its body provides protection and defense during danger. The Armadillo Lizard is found in the deserts of Southern Africa .
Desert tortoise has a high domed shell that looks brown among the adults and dark tan for the young. Its limbs, protected by thick sales, are powerful enough to dig holes in the desert soil. The holes serve as a basin to collect water during the rain. Desert tortoises always remember where these basins are located in the desert.
The usual habitat of the desert tortoise is the the creosote bush scrub at an elevation of 1,000-3,000 feet above sea level. The habitat of the mentioned tortoise are found in Mojave and Sonoran Deserts of California, Nevada, Utah and parts of Arizona. The desert tortoise consume water from the grass and flowers they ate during spring time. The population of the said species has declined by 90% due to human activity .
The Water-holding frog is found in Australia and has the ability to hibernate until the next rainfall which comes after a year or more. It can store large amount of water in their bladder and seals itself in a water-tight cocoon from recently shedded skin. The color of the frog’s skin adapts to the color of its habitat and are able to dig holes using their feet. A male water-holding frog is about 6.4cm and the female frog is 5 to 7.2 cm. .
Kangaroo rat is a species of desert rodent that is found in North America. It’s fur color are beige, grey, cinnamon or brown which adapts to the color of its environment, creating a camouflage. It is well adapted to the dry condition of the desert as their kidneys produce a dense urine with small amount of water. One interesting feature about the kangaroo rat is that their body temperature is higher than the outside temperature. They have a cheek pouch which they use to transport food to the burrows. Kangaroo rats can survive two to five years in the wild .
The thorny devil is found all over the dry region of Western Australia, The Northern Territory, south-western Queensland and western South Australia. Its skin has yellow, orange, brown and white markings which changes colors to adapt to its surroundings and the spikes on its body are for defense from predators.
Thorny devils get their body heat from external sources. They are usually found basking under the sun during early morning or late afternoon .
Coyotes are nocturnal animals that live in North America and they wander around the plains, mountains and desert areas of Canada, US, Mexico and Central America. They don’t dwell in packs but join other coyotes during winter to look for food during winter. Coyotes are actually omnivores.
Coyotes have a narrow and a long snout, lean bodies and thick fur. Their fur color depends on their habitat. Those who live in the mountains have darker color while those in the desert have light colored furs .
The Gila monster is a large bodies lizard with small eyes and short, stout tail. It’s skin has bright pink or orange and black with wart-like bumps on the skin to help protect themselves from predators. They have claws that are able to dig burrows to hunt other animal eggs. it’s tongue has the ability to hunt and receive information by picking up scents in the air. The gila monster can store fat in its tail in order to survive during the lean months of food, hibernation and pregnancy.
They are found in the western and southern Arizona, as far south as southern Sonora Mexico, extreme southeastern California, extreme southwestern Utah, southern Nevada, and southwestern New Mexico .
Javelina is an animal that looks like a wild boar and are found in the deserts of southeast Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, southward through Mexico and Central America and into northern Argentina. They survive in the wild by living together in a group size of ten. Each group are responsible in guarding their sleeping and feeding areas and communicate with others using sounds and smell.
They mark their territories by rubbing their scents on rocks and also with each other for identification. Javelina are mainly herbivores and usually eat plants like agave, mesquite, beans, pear, root and tubers. In the wild, they can live up to ten years or more while in captivity, then can live up to 20 years .
The Sonoran Pronghorn Antelope travel across the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, California and Sonora, Mexico. The remaining population of the pronghorns are only 160 in the USA and 240 in Mexico.
The pronghorn antelope is also known as the “prairie ghost” because they are so elusive and one of the fastest animal in North America. In order to adapt to the harsh environment, they are able to erect their bristle-like hair to release heat and their good vision and speed help them escape from predators .
The cactus ferruginous pygmy-owl is only 6.5 inches and only weighs 2.5 oz. They live in the desert of southern Arizona and northwestern Mexico. They thrive on elevations below 4,000 feet and prefer desert scrub thickets, trees and large cacti for nesting and roosting.
The said owl may be small but they can take a dove twice their size. They hunt during day time for birds, insects, lizards and rodents etc. The pygmy owl does not migrate but during winter and early spring, they nest in tree holes or in cacti like the saguaro and organ pipe .