Beating the Heat: Animals in the Desert

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Animals that live in the desert have special ways of coping with the extreme heat and dryness of their environment. Here are a few and what they do, courtesy of The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Kids!

Beating the Heat: Animals in the Desert

Go Below: Gila monsters, tarantulas, and desert tortoises make their homes under the sand or soil, where it is cooler. Kangaroo rats seal off their tunnels during the day to prevent heat from entering and keep the humid air inside from escaping.

Sleep Through It: Round-tailed ground squirrels, spadefoot toads, and desert tortoises go into a sleep similar to hibernation called “estivation.”

Time It Right: Bats, owls, and many rodents sleep in shady shelters during the day and come out at night, when it’s cooler. Kit foxes, coyotes, and bobcats tend to be active between dusk and dawn.

Use Their Ears: Jackrabbits and mule deer have big ears with lots of blood vessels. As blood travels through the ears’ arteries and veins, it radiates heat out, which helps the animals to cool down.

Go Light: Desert iguanas have cream-color skin that reflects heat, helping them to be comfortable in their hot, sandy home.

Run for Cover: Zebra-tailed lizards and a few others run quickly over hot spots to reach the shade. Some lizards, such as collared lizards and Mojave fringe-toed lizards, travel on two legs, rather than all four, for short distances. Snakes called sidewinders travel in such a way that only a small part of their body touches the scorching sand at any one time.

Fly High: Eagles, hawks, and vultures soar high in the sky, where the air is cooler.


About The Author

Mare-Anne Jarvela

Mare-Anne Jarvela has worked for The Old Farmer’s Almanac as head editor of the Garden Guide, senior research editor, and/or contributor for over 30 years. She is a nature lover who’s happiest in her garden or baking for her family and friends. Read More from Mare-Anne Jarvela

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