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Desert Animals

Animals in the Desert Biome

Desert Animals: Mammals | Birds | Fish | Reptiles | Amphibians | Insects, Spiders, Invertebrates

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Questions about Desert Animals

Which animals live in the desert?
What do desert animals eat?
How do desert animals conserve water?

Information about Desert Animals

Desert Animal Survival - Adaptations
Desert Food Chain
How Desert Animals Are Classified

Desert Animal Adaptations

The desert habitat is home to a variety of animals that have adapted to survive in harsh, dry conditions. Some of the most iconic desert animals have obvious physical characteristics that have enabled them to adapt to their environment.

Camels are one of the most noteworthy of the desert dwellers. The large humps on camels' backs are key to their survival. The Bactrian camel has two humps on its back while the dromedary camel has only one. Both types of camel store fat in these humps that can be broken down over time. During long journeys the camel uses the stored fat for energy and water and can go for long periods of time without other sustenance. Their wide, thick-soled feet enable them to walk on the hot sand. Distinctive thick eyebrows and long eyelashes protect their eyes from sand and the harsh rays of the sun.

Other iconic desert animals include the coyote, roadrunner and jackrabbit. Made popular by the Warner Bros. Looney Toons series, these animals became symbols of the Southwest.

Coyotes are a predator of both jackrabbits and roadrunners, however, they are unlikely to catch the quick roadrunner. Coyotes will eat just about anything and are known for being able to quickly adapt their diet to the available resources in their environment.

The legendary roadrunner is quick on its feet and is a predator to the venomous rattlesnake. Its long tail helps it to stop and to turn at high speeds, which can get up to 17 – 20 MPH. The roadrunner is a carnivore and absorbs water from its prey. The roadrunner has quick reflexes, making this desert bird an excellent hunter, which is key to its survival.

The long ears of the jackrabbit are a physical adaptation needed to live in the hot, dry climates. Large, vascular ears enable the jackrabbit to cool down its body temperature and to deflect heat.

To learn more about desert animals and their unique adaptations for survival, click here.

Desert Animals - Insects, Spiders, Invertebrates

View all desert invertebrates.

Mammals | Birds | Fish | Reptiles | Amphibians | Insects, Spiders, Invertebrates



General Information

Animal Classification:
Putting the Plants and Animals in Their Places.

Spotting Sonoran Desert Wildlife

Desert Animal Survival

Desert Food Chain

Desert Food Chain: An Introduction

Spring Rattles In: Rattlesnake Season

Insect Diversity

Discover the World of Insects

Debunking Myths About Rattlesnakes, Scorpions and Tartantulas.

Common Reptiles of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Hibernation: The Deep Sleep


Cetaceans: Marine Mammals in the Sea of Cortez

Hantavirus: Virus Carried by Deer Mice

Looking for Birds in the Southwest? Follow the Water

Videos of Desert Animals
Why K-12 Students Read


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