The desert is a harsh mistress. The sun and sand are scorching hot, and food and water can be scarce.
Huge temperature variations between day and night put such a strain on rocks that they break. Imagine the impact on living organisms.
Most deserts receive between 25 and 200 mm (1 to 8 inches) of rainfall annually. Some years they get no rain at all!
It takes a special kind of creature to not only survive, but thrive in the desert with nothing but their natural assets. Some animals have to use some strange behaviors in order to thrive in this hostile environment.
So, how have some Crazy Creatures adapted to survive the desert? The roadrunner is a desert superstar.
When it needs to excrete excess salt and minerals, it preserves its valuable body moisture by crying them out through its small eye glands. This allows it to keep more of its water than if it peed them out in a heavier stream.
The roadrunner does such an efficient job of this that it can survive its whole life without ever drinking water. In your face, Wile E. Coyote!
Scorpions take a different tact to surviving the barren desert. They’re able to slow their metabolism down so much, that they can hibernate while they’re awake. They can go a whole year without eating.
The thorny devil’s skin uses capillary action to absorb water like blotter paper The scales on its body are structured to collect dew and channel it down to the corners of its mouth. It can even absorb water from sandy, muddy puddles.
In deserts, kangaroos use spit baths to stay cool. They lick their own legs, which have blood vessels that reduce their body temperatures quickly.
In Africa, the Cape Ground Squirrel has a better idea: it takes shade with it wherever it goes. Its bushy tail acts like a patio umbrella, so this is the best creature to have a beer with in the desert. Bring your own beer.
Of course, you can’t picture deserts without camels. Instead of shade, camels carry food on their backs. Their humps act as a fat storage which is used as both a food and water source.
Camels also have wide feet that act like snowshoes in the sand. Meerkats are so cool, they have built-in shades. Black circles around their eyes absorb sunlight, preventing it from reflecting back into their eyes. This allows meerkats to see better than their predators, too.
Built-in shades, fat-storing humps and going a whole year without eating… that’s how some desert animals have adapted to thrive in a harsh climate. And that’s what makes them Crazy Creatures!
- “20 Amazing Animal Adaptations For Living In The Desert“. CRAIG S BAKER, 2014. mentalfloss.com. Accessed April 30 2019.
- “10 Desert Animals With Brilliant Survival Adaptations”. CHRISTOPHER M. STEPHENS. 2016. Listverse. Accessed April 30 2019.