Sure, a dog or a cat can be cute. But our pampered little critters aren’t nearly as interesting as animals that are forced to adapt to the harsh living conditions in the desert. Out of all the members of the animal kingdom, the sahara desert animals are some of the most fascinating on the planet.
They critters of the Sahara are quite unique, and most cannot elsewhere in the world. Want to get to know these creatures better? Then check out the ten most interesting animals of the Sahara Desert:
1. Horned Vipers
Judging by its scientific name, Cerastes cerastes, this Sahara Desert animal doesn’t sound dangerous at all. Its everyday name, on the other hand, should give you a bit of warning about this creature. The horned viper has venom that, when injected into the human body, can cause significant damage to tissues and red blood cells. Repeated exposure to a lot of hemotoxins, which is what is contained in the viper’s venom, can be fatal.
While being bitten by a horned viper doesn’t necessarily translate to a sure death, the experience can be quite painful. Owing to a continuously degrading environment, the horned viper is now counted as an endangered species.
2. Dromedary Camels
Camels are, perhaps, the most popular and well known among Sahara Desert animals. While camels may also be of the Bactrian type, the main camel you’ll find in the Sahara is the Dromedary Camel. Camels are a favorite among Saharan people because they are strong animals, willing to endure the vexing life in the desert.
What’s interesting about this particular creature is that, contrary to what most people think, its hump isn’t storage space for water, but for fat. Whenever food is scarce, all the camel has to do is to feed off the fat stored in its hump. That has got to be one life-saving bulge!
3. Dorcas Gazelle
Also known under the name of Gazella dorcas and Ariel Gazelle, the Dorcas Gazelle is another of the most attractive animals of the Sahara Desert. It usually has a height of 65 centimeters and a weight of about 25 kilograms.
Aside from its leafy diet obtained from bushes and trees, the most captivating fact about this beautiful creature is that it jumps on an impulse whenever a predator approaches. This reflex is called stotting and is a signal for the other gazelles that danger is near. It also serves to show the predator how fit the gazelle is. Of course, with the amazing ability to run as fast as 49 miles per hour, the gazelle might just escape any threat to its being.
4. Dung Beetle
If you’re into animals that literally deal with crap, then the Dung Beetle might just be your favorite. This species survives entirely on animal waste and is one of the most essential animals in the Sahara. Basically, there are three dung beetle varieties. The first one makes an almost perfect ball out of the dung and rolls it the entire way home. The second type digs burrows by making a hole near the dung. The last variety simply (and lazily?) plows into and lives in the dung itself. Isn’t it fascinating how one animal’s waste can turn out to be the bread of another?
5. The Addax Antelope
Scientifically known as Addax nasomaculatus, the Addax Antelope is among the planet’s most gorgeous animals. These flat-footed creatures have the ability to crisscross the sandy topography without any difficulty. With only an estimated 500 in existence, the Addax Antelope is considered to be one of the endangered animals in the Sahara Desert.
The animal’s luscious meat is irresistible for poachers, and its leather is of great value. Because of their flat hooves, they have a hard time escaping their captors. The antelopes’ near-extinction can also be attributed to worsening global warming as well as human encroachment of their habitats.
6. Deathstalker Scorpion
While on the subject of dangerous and potentially fatal animals, you should know that the Sahara is also home to the Deathstalker Scorpion. The name itself inspires fear, don’t you agree?
While other types of scorpions use their huge and mighty pincers to inflict hurt on their victims, the Deathstalker Scorpion utilizes its tiny and fragile-looking pincers to kill a person with its neurotoxins. Though healthy adults “merely” experience pain from the attack of this animal, kids and elder people are likely to die. Thus, everyone is weary and practices caution around this type of scorpions.
Though they are not able to fly, ostriches are known worldwide for holding the title of being one of the quickest animals on land. With a top speed of 40 miles per hour, the average ostrich is truly amazing and more than makes up for its inability to take to the air. Apart from their wonderful speed, ostriches have multitudes of other awe-inspiring characteristics.
To name a few, they have the ability to travel long distances, have excellent hearing abilities and eyesight, can kick attacking predators with their strong legs, and scores of other defensive talents. Their diet consists mostly of bushes and grass, but they can also make a meal out of small animals sometimes. Considered to be the largest birds in the planet, with extremely huge eggs, the ostriches in the Sahara Desert are of different breeds.
8. Monitor Lizard
Unlike the lizards you see back home, the Monitor Lizard is highly dangerous owing to the fact that its venom can be compared to that of deadly and venomous snakes. Don’t be too alarmed, though. Their diet usually consists of tiny animals such as insects, rats, and other mammals. Monitors are cold-blooded reptiles, and they grow well in warm weather. When it gets extremely cold, these lizards can become quite aggressive. Don’t try to place them in captivity, either. They’ll show you just how much they hate it.
9. Fennec Fox
Considered a nocturnal animal, the Fennec Fox can be distinguished by its unusually large ears. This feature allows the creature to get rid of excess body heat, making it better able to cope in the desert. It feeds on smaller Sahara desert animals as well as plants. Its average weight falls between 2 and 3.5 pounds, while its body length can be anywhere from 14 inches to 17 inches.
10. The JerboaThe jerboa is a rodent known for being able to withstand extremely harsh conditions like that of the Sahara Desert. This nocturnal creature is famous for its jumping ability, which it calls upon when escaping predators. With an amazing top speed of 16 miles per hour, the jerboa definitely presents a challenge for those who want to catch it. Interestingly, the jerboa doesn’t actually drink water. Instead, the animal extracts as much water as possible from food. The typical jerboa diet includes desert plants, insects, and seeds.
The Sahara Desert may seem barren to anyone who isn’t familiar with the place. Yet, if you look more closely and explore the desert a bit more, you might find yourself face to face with plenty of interesting Sahara Desert animals.