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[Animals] 15 strange desert animals

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Deserts are full of oddball animals. Here are 15 of the strangest.


Deserts are not easy places to call home. Broiling in the day, frigid at night, and lacking ample water, these landscapes test their inhabitants. The creatures that call deserts home have adaptations to help them survive and thrive in these harsh conditions. Many of these creatures never need to drink and have skin or scales that enable them to hoard what little water they require; some have evolved to move and be active solely at night to avoid the punishing sun. Here are 15 of the strangest animals found in deserts around the world.

Fennec fox


Desert animals don't get much cuter than fennec foxes (Vulpes zerda). These teeny canids are smaller than domestic cats, measuring 14 to 16 inches (35.6 to 40.6 centimeters) long, not including their tails, but they sport enormous ears that can grow to be 4 to 6 inches (10.2 to 15.2 cm) long. These ears help the foxes shed heat and listen for prey under the sand. When the foxes catch the sound of rodents, insects or other small animals they predate, they use all four paws to dig out their quarry in a shower of sand, according to the Smithsonian National Zoo(opens in new tab).

Fennec foxes are well-adapted for life in African and Arabian deserts. Their pale fur camouflages them against the sand; it also grows on the bottoms of their feet to give them traction while running in the sand and protects their feet from the hot desert surface. When air temperatures rise, the foxes can pant up to 690 times per minute to cool down. Fennec foxes also dig elaborate burrows to escape the sun in the hottest part of the day.

Screaming hairy armadillo


Perhaps less cute than fennec foxes — but no less well-adapted to their desert environment — are screaming hairy armadillos (Chaetophractus vellerosus). These armadillos really do scream; when threatened, they make a terrible cry that sounds similar to the wails of a newborn human baby. Research published in 2019(opens in new tab) suggests that these screams are designed to startle predators, or to attract other predators to the scene, perhaps distracting an attacker and enabling the armadillo to get away. 

Screaming hairy armadillos are small, weighing only 1.9 pounds (0.86 kilograms). They live in the Monte desert of Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay, preferring spots with loose, sandy soil where they can dig burrows, according to the Smithsonian National Zoo(opens in new tab). The armadillos rarely need to drink. Their kidneys are highly efficient, and they get most of the water they need from the plants they eat. It's a waste not, want not environment in the desert, so screaming hairy armadillos are opportunistic eaters — they also consume insects and small animals such as lizards and rodents.

Hairy desert scorpion


Among the many scorpion species that call deserts home, the hairy desert scorpion (Hadrurus arizonensis) is a standout. These sorpions can measure between 4 and 7 inches (10.2 to 17.8 cm) long, according to Utah's Hogle Zoo(opens in new tab), making them North America's largest scorpions. Though they are a drab olive-green color, hairy desert scorpions fluoresce under ultraviolet (UV) light. No one knows exactly why scorpions fluoresce, but the best way to find these shy nocturnal predators is to take a UV light into the desert on a summer night, when they tend to be most active. 

Hairy desert scorpions are found in North America's Sonoran and Mojave deserts, as well as in Nevada and Utah. When looking to mate, male and female hairy desert scorpions lock pincers in a mating dance that looks more like a wrestling match. In fact, if the male does not flee quickly after depositing his sperm, he might find himself becoming his mate's next meal. 

Females gestate their young for six to 12 months, live-birthing up to 35 babies that piggyback on their mother's carapace until they're large enough to hunt on their own. Fortunately for humans, desert hairy scorpions would rather flee than sting, and their venom is relatively weak. For most people, the sting is similar to a bee's sting.

Harris's hawk


Harris's hawks (Parabuteo unicinctus) are oddities in the falcon world. These impressive red-winged raptors sometimes hunt in packs, working together to pursue their prey around bushes, thickets and the saguaro cactuses of Arizona's Sonoran desert. The birds eat lizards, other birds and small desert mammals such as kangaroo rats and ground squirrels. When they catch large prey, they'll share the meat with their fellow hunters, according to the conservation nonprofit Audubon(opens in new tab).

These birds also often work in groups to raise their young. Two males may mate with a single female, and the trio work together peacefully to raise any ensuing hatchlings. Hawk siblings help each other, too; an older brood from earlier in the season may stick around to bring food to younger broods.

More info here in link: https://www.livescience.com/strange-desert-animals

The Den Win GIF by MillwallFC

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