Animals can survive in the desert, but it is an extremely tough place to live. They have to be able to find water and food without much effort, or else they will die of dehydration and starvation. An animal’s ability to survive in the desert is mainly determined by how well it can find food and water. The plants around them are their main source of both, but these plants are scarce due to the lack of rain and water.
So how can animals eat and survive from desert plants? Desert animals are adapted to eat and survive on the water and nutrients in plants. Plants store a lot of moisture, so animals are able to get their needed hydration from them. Desert bushes usually offer berries that provide an animal with enough nutrition for its next hunt for food or drinkable water source.
This article will discuss some tips on how animals can eat from desert plants, as well as keep up with their need for water. It also explains that most plants are able to provide reliable sources of sustenance as well as hydration for animals living there.
Herbivores that Survive in the Desert
The tips below will discuss some ways that an herbivore in a desert would survive:
The first rule for animals living in the desert is finding food and water. An animal’s ability to survive in the desert is mainly determined by how well it can find food and water. The desert plants around them are their main source of both, but these plants are scarce due to the lack of rain and water.
Desert animals are adapted to eat and survive on the water and nutrients in plants. Plants store a lot of moisture, so herbivores have enough hydration from them. Desert bushes usually offer berries that provide an animal with enough nutrition for its next hunt for food or drinkable water source.
Some common desert plants that can be eaten by animals
Acacias have been known to survive in some of the harshest climates, and they provide a food source for many desert dwellers as well. The acacia’s thorny branches prevent water loss from its leaves, which means it might not need much rain at all!
A Cactus is a great food source for animals, and they usually have lots of water in them too! Many cacti contain up to 95% liquid, so an animal can get hydrated by drinking from the plant’s stem or eating its fruit. What’s more, the cacti’s needles are small enough to be eaten by small animals like birds!
Mesquites have lots of seeds, which serve as a great food source for many desert dwellers and plants that grow around them. An animal will usually get all the water it needs from mesquite seed pods, and it can also eat the pods!
Desert bushes offer berries that provide desert dwellers with enough nutrition for their next hunt for food or drinkable water source. These bushes are usually found in oases, and can provide an animal with more than enough sustenance for their needs. Common desert species that form bushes are:
- Blackbrush: Blackbrush bushes grow in the hotter, drier parts of deserts and are usually found on hillsides or slopes with a lot of shade to keep them cool. These plants have thorns that can be used by animals for protection from predators, as well as having fruit that is edible to many species!
- Climbing buckwheat: This desert plant grows in lots of different types of climates and is a favorite food among some animals because it provides them with enough nutrients for their wellbeing!
- Coyote bush: The coyote bush has fruit that can be eaten by many species, as well as having flowers which provide nectar to smaller animals. The coyote bush also provides animals with a safe place to hide from predators.
A desert’s topsoil is usually dry because it does not get much rain. However, there are some plants that grow to be tall (usually taller than a human) where the soil stays moist thanks to its deep root system and long, narrow leaves which prevent the water from evaporating.
Plant roots can go deep into the soil to find any available moisture, but it’s important that an animal still drink from the surface when it can to prevent dehydration.
Survival tips for desert animals using plants
-Some animals try to find shade during midday hours by digging holes under bushes or trees for protection against the sun.
-A desert animal can survive by eating the leaves of plants or drinking from a plant’s stem. They usually have to work hard and find water, but they are able to do this because their bodies are adapted for it!
-There is also some debate about whether herbivores should eat other animals in addition to plants. Regardless, desert animals need to eat lots of green materials that have high moisture content in order to survive.
-Animals that live in the desert have adapted their bodies for hunting at night when it’s cooler, drinking from plants during daytime hours since they can’t rely on a rainstorm or oasis and finding food sources like cactus fruit (which is full of water).
Examples of desert animals that survive by eating desert plants
Ants, gophers and squirrels
Ants, gophers and squirrels who can eat roots from bushes or trees they’ve dug up to find water in them. They have mastered the art of burrowing. Insects survive by eating plants because they don’t need much food or water to live, so it’s easy for them to adapt. They can also find water by sucking out the moisture from leaves.
Cows depend on plants for their calories and nutrients, but they also need to drink about 40 gallons of water per day! So cacti are a great food source because they usually have lots of liquid in them too.
Sheep and deer
Animals like sheep and deer use their tongue to sweep sand off plants. This reveals some moisture that might have accumulated in the dirt from a past rain shower or dew drop.
Birds like the kiwi, which can eat and drink from fruit that falls to the ground. Kiwis have no feathers on their legs or feet, so they’re able to walk around without sinking into the sand. Other common desert birds that survive are the sandgrouse, which lives in Africa and Asia.
Camels have adapted to living in dry conditions because they’re able to store water from plants inside their bodies when there’s not much outside of it. Camels can also drink up to 20 gallons of water at one time! Some common plants that camels eat in the desert are thorns, which they chew on to get the water out. They have a thick tongue to prevent the effects of pricks and thorns.
Some desert animals like goats are able to eat plants by ripping them off with their teeth and swallowing leaves in one gulp, which helps reduce the amount of moisture lost while eating! Desert goats can stand on their hind legs to reach higher green leaves in the dryer bushes.
Lemurs are only active during nighttime hours because there’s not enough sunlight for them in their native habitat. Lemurs usually eat leaves from trees and bushes, but can also drink up to twice per day since they’re able to find more sources of liquid than some other animals.
Bees survive by drinking nectar from flowering desert plants and using it for their energy instead of sunlight. They also collect pollen that has moisture in it which is great for desert animals who want something green like ants.
Scorpions are able to survive by eating dead animals and plants that other animals leave behind. They’re also active during nighttime hours when there’s not as much competition for food sources.
Desert slugs eat the mucus from cacti, which helps them get moisture without actually taking any liquid in. There is speculation that some animals might not be able to survive in the desert because they can’t get a lot of moisture without going into water sources, which is dangerous for them.
Prairie dogs are great at finding food and survival by eating plants like grasses and leaves from bushes or trees. They have something called cecum, which has a lot of bacteria that helps break down plant material.
Rodents like mice are able to survive by eating seeds and nuts, which has a high moisture content in them. They also have the ability to store fat so they don’t need as much water or food when living in dry conditions.
There are many more desert animals than just these listed above, but they all share a few common characteristics including: being able to live in hot, dry environments and hunting at night when the air is cooler.
Animals can survive in the desert by adapting to their surroundings and finding ways to find food, water and a way of existing from the plants that grow there. Most plants in the desert provide dependable sources of food and water for animals because they have adapted and found ways to survive in those conditions.