Desert -- Mammals in Desert
Very often, when people think of mammals in desert, they usually think of camels only. In
fact, almost all of the mammalian orders have their representatives in the deserts.
To avoid the heat, some small mammals live in shelters underground, where the temperature fluctuations are not as much as those on the surface. Most important of all, the maximum temperature in burrows is much lower than that on the surface. They usually come out at night to search for food and store the food in burrows.
Large mammals, like gazelles, onyx, asses and camels, find their shelters in the shade of a rock or tree. As the excessive heat may kill them, some of them lose heat by evaporation, which can only increase the staying power by 2-3oC. Of course, water must be available for sweating. They get water from waterholes and by eating plants and preys. The Mountain Lion
|The small mammals have greater surface area to weight ratio. They gain and lose heat quickly and thus face greater problems in maintaining an acceptable body temperature range. Any animal living in desert has to have a gut that is able to excrete almost dry faecal material and a kidney that draws minimum water from blood. There are "summer hibernates" that minimize their metabolic rates in summer to avoid water lost through respiration.|
| Some mammals, like
hares, have large ears densely populated with blood vessels to remove heat.
Desert Carnivores obtain water from their preys. The dog and cat families lack sweat glands. They remove heat by panting which in turn lose much water so they are found mostly at the desert margins near a permanent water source.
1999, ThinkQuest team 26634