Despite being some of the most inhospitable habitats in the world, deserts actually house hundreds of animals and birds. Collectively referred to as xerocoles, all these species have special adaptive features to survive in the desert ecosystem.
List of animals that live in the desert biome
What animals live in the Sahara Desert, Africa
|Sand Cat||Mediterranean Monk Seal||Fennec Fox|
|Monitor Lizard||Saharan Silver Ant||White Antelope|
|Deathstalker Scorpion||African Silverbill||Saharan Cheetah|
What animals live in the Sonoran Desert, North America
|Desert Tortoise||Pronghorn||Gila Woodpecker|
|Sonora Sucker||Curve-billed Thrasher||Sonoran Desert Toad|
|Kit Fox||Black-tailed Jackrabbit||Mearns Coyote|
What animals live in the Mojave Desert, North America
|Glossy Snake||Mojave Ground Squirrel||Elf Owl|
|Rosy Boa||Western Screech Owl||Common Raven|
|Chuckwalla||Gopher Snake||Cottontail Rabbit|
What animals live in the Gobi Desert, Asia
|Bactrian Camel||Central Asian Viper||Jerboa|
|Golden Eagle||Gobi Ibex||Marbled Polecat|
|Gobi Bear||Snow Leopard||Mongolian Wild Ass|
What animals live in the Chihuahuan Desert, North America
|Red-tailed Hawk||Roadrunner||Collared Lizard|
|Collared Peccary||Jaguar||Bighorn Sheep|
What animals live in the Arctic and Antarctic Deserts
|Rock Ptarmigan||Arctic Fox||Leopard Seals|
|Chinstrap Penguins||Gentoo Penguins||Polar Bears|
|Wandering Albatross||Saiga Antelope||Walrus|
What animals live in the Great Victoria Desert, Australia
|Chestnut-breasted Whiteface||Dingo||Sand Goanna|
|Thorny Devil||Bearded Dragon||Red Kangaroo|
What animals live in the Thar Desert, Asia
|Indian Spiny-Tailed Lizard||Saw-scaled Viper||Indian spotted eagle|
|Great Indian Bustard||Blackbuck||Indian Wild Ass|
What animals live in the Atacama Desert, South America
|Humboldt Penguins||Lava Lizard||South American Grey Fox|
|Darwin’s Leaf-eared Mouse||Andean Flamingo||Guanaco|
What animals live in the Arabian Desert, Asia
|Caracal||Arabian Wolves||Striped Hyena|
|Egyptian uromastyx||Lanner falcon||Namaqua dove|
What animals live in the Namib Desert, Africa
What animals live in the Negev Desert, Asia
|Negev Tortoise||Negev Shrew|
What animals live in the Kalahari Desert, Africa
|Brown hyena||Chacma Baboons||African Leopard|
|Secretary Bird||Kalahari Lion||Common Warthogs|
Adaptations: How do animals survive in the desert
- Since the temperatures below the surface are much cooler than above it, many of the small to medium-sized animals living in the desert dig burrows to spend the hot daytime hours, only coming out during the night. Due to this, most desert inhabitants are nocturnal or crepuscular, where they’re only active at night or during dawn and dusk.
- Animals and birds that do not exhibit burrowing characteristics choose distinct microclimates where the temperatures are lower than other places. A falcon may opt to spend most of its day nesting on a cliff facing north, where it cooler than on the southern face.
- Many animals adapt to their environment by going into hibernation to survive through the hottest months.
- Some animals and birds may migrate to higher altitudes during summer seasons to escape the brutal weather conditions.
- The bodies of the burrowing animals are capable of absorbing moisture from the ground, which is why they prefer to dig into relatively moist areas.
- The inhabitants of the desert have light body colors, helping them to use camouflage for avoiding dangers. Some examples of sandy colored animals include camels, wild asses, etc.
- Most of these animals have long limbs and ears, which act like car radiators, helping their bodies to stay cool.
- They have specialized kidneys which retain water from urine, so excretion occurs in uric acid form.
- Some animals and birds can also make water within their body by special metabolism of food items.
Diet: What do desert animals eat
Some animals, like camels, and kangaroo rats derive a lot of moisture from succulent plants like cactuses. While some species may extract nectar or sap from different plants, others may get their water from the plant parts they eat. Since insects are also aplenty in the desert, they become a regular source of food for many birds, reptiles, and bats.
Carnivores like hyenas, leopards, and lions that are at the top of the food chain, get their share of water from the bodies of their prey. Some examples of omnivores include coyotes and ravens.
The population of many animals and birds of the desert have been reduced to mere hundreds because of overhunting by mankind. The IUCN considers many species as endangered, including the Egyptian tortoise, gazelles, antelopes, Saharan cheetah, fennec foxes, caracals, and pronghorns. Conservation efforts are, however, underway to save them from going extinct.
Extinct desert animals: The bubal hartebeest and desert rat-kangaroo.
Interesting facts about desert animals
- The sandgrouse from North Africa and Asia are able to carry small quantities of water in the feathers on their belly to bring it back to the nest for their family.
- The African spiny mouse has the ability to regenerate its damaged or wounded skin entirely, along with regrowing the hair follicles, sweat glands, cartilage, and fur.
- Kangaroos often lick their forelegs to cool themselves, as the saliva evaporates and reduces their body temperature.
- The addax, an inhabitant of the tropical desert of Sahara, can change the color of its pelage, which becomes white in summer to reflect sunlight while changing to a brown-grey that can absorb heat during winter.