are among the most unfriendly environments for animal life. The scorching daylight hours do not see much activity, but a few animals like lizards move at
high speed across the burning sand hunting for insects. With nightfall, the
desert comes alive. Large spiders, centipedes and scorpions crawl out from holes
or from under stones.
Many species of rats and mice are adapted to desert life. They include the grasshopper mice and kangaroo rats of American deserts and the spiny mice, gerbils and jerboas of Africa.
Since water is so scarce, most desert animals get their water from the food they eat: moist plants, seeds, or the blood and body tissues of their prey. But they must carefully conserve the little water they obtain in this way, so desert animals prevent water leaving their bodies in a number of different ways. Some, like kangaroo rats and lizards, live in burrows which do not get too hot or too cold and have more humid (damp) air inside. These animals stay in their burrows during the hot days and emerge at night to feed.
Other animals have bodies designed to save water. Scorpions and wolf spiders have a thick outer covering which reduces moisture loss.
The camel has a number of adaptations to desert life. Its body temperature rises and falls with the air temperature, so the camel does not loose water through sweating or panting. It can drink large amounts of water at one time and then go without drinking for many days. The camel's fat store, in its hump, also provides body water when the fat is "burned up" during exercise.
The Desert Hedgehog
The Fennec Fox
|This type of antelope lives in the Sahara.
|The Dama Gazelle.
|The springbok lives in the Kalahari.
|The Dorcas gazelle is rare.
|Ostrichs can run very fast. Ostrich's also live in grasslands.
|African hedgehogs roll up into a spiny ball when they are scared.
|Jackals live in both the Sahara and Kalahari deserts. ©Darren New
|The spotted hyena can be found in the Kalahari. The striped hyena lives in the Sahara.
Pictures and table info from: http://www.ahsd25.k12.il.us/Curriculum%20Info/africa/desertanimals.htm