Sahara desert animals

The Sahara Desert or Sahara is the largest desert in the world and covers most of North Africa. Its surface is so large that it resembles the surface of countries such as China or the United States. With respect to the climate of the Sahara desert, it is dry with a great daily temperature range: during the day the maximum temperatures can reach 54 ° C and are preceded by frosts at night. In addition, there are frequent north-east winds that usually cause strong sand storms and even tornadoes. Rainfall is rare, but when it occurs, it happens in torrential fashion. All these characteristics make the climate of the Sahara extreme and make life in the desert difficult. However, there are adaptations of desert animals that make their life in the Sahara possible, Among these adaptations we can mention: loss of sweat glands, highly concentrated urine, fur as a thermal insulator, resistance to dehydration, nocturnal habits and many more. Now, how the desert animals living in such an extreme habitat are related is simple, through trophic chains as in all ecosystems. Each of them constitutes an indispensable link within the trophic chains.

As a result of what has been mentioned so far, you may wonder then, what animals live in the desert and what do they eat? In this GreenEcology article, we will answer this question and more, as we will show you 10 species of animals from the Sahara desert .

Fennec or desert fox

The fennec or desert fox ( Vulpes zerda ) is one of the three species of foxes that are part of the fauna of the Sahara desert . It is one of the smallest foxes that exist, with nocturnal and carnivorous habits. Its characteristic ears make life in the desert easier, since they function as a ventilation and blood cooling system that allow it to withstand the extreme temperatures of the desert, as well as making it easier to find food over long distances and even prey buried in the sand.

The yellow scorpion , scientifically known as Leiurus quinquestriatus , lives in the Sahara and is one of the most poisonous species of scorpions that exist. Its venom is a cocktail of neurotoxic substances that can be lethal to many of its small prey, but also to larger animals and even to people.

Dorcas gazelle

The common gazelle or dorcas ( Gazella dorcas ) is a herbivorous species that feeds on the plants of the Sahara desert. They are very adapted to life in the savannas of Africa and in this desert: they can go long periods of time without drinking water directly since they obtain the necessary water from the plants they consume. For this reason, although they enter the Sahara, they do not tend to stray very far from areas with vegetation .

The Sahara cheetah or Northwest African cheetah ( Acinonyx jubatus hecki ) , is a subspecies of the cheetah or cheetah and is another of the most representative species of the Sahara desert. Unfortunately, it is currently critically endangered. Only 250 Sahara cheetahs remain in the wild, and their greatest threat is illegal hunting and trafficking.

Desert horned viper

The desert horned viper ( Cerastes cerastes ) , also called the sand viper , is a species of viper easy to recognize by the presence of horns on its eyelids. However, its mimetic colors with respect to the desert sand allow it to be successfully camouflaged, therefore it is difficult to observe. Regarding its habits, it presents a curious hunting strategy: it moves the tip of its tail like a worm to attract certain prey, such as birds.

Red necked ostrich

This species of ostrich ( Struthio camelus camelus ) is also called the Sahara ostrich . It differs from other ostrich species by having a robust body, better withstanding the lack of water, being fast and presenting reddish-pink legs and neck. Like all ostriches, this species has a herbivorous diet.

Arabian camel or dromedary

Several species of camelid, but the oc dromedary amello arabica Camelus dromedarius ) is a species native to the desert of the Sahara . It is characterized by having a single hump and presenting long and thin eyelashes that keep your eyes safe from the sand, knees and ankles with calluses that protect them from the strong temperatures of the sand and are also highly resistant to dehydration.

Here you can learn about the Difference between camel and dromedary .


This species of antelope ( Addax nasomaculatus ) is adapted to the scarce availability of water in the desert and feeds on sparse or sparse vegetation. They are gregarious animals and remain active during dawn and also at dusk, when the extreme temperatures of the desert drop.

Desert monitor

The desert monitor ( Varanus griseus ) is a carnivorous reptile that feeds on both vertebrate and invertebrate species. Being a cold-blooded animal , it must be exposed to the sun to increase its body temperature. However, monitor lizards hide in their burrows at noon to protect themselves from the extreme temperatures of the desert.

Gerbil of Egypt

We finished talking about the animals of the Sahara by mentioning the Egyptian gerbil , also called the pyramid mouse ( Jaculus jaculus ) . It is a small rodent with nocturnal habits. It is basically a herbivorous species, but it can sometimes eat bird eggs. Its physical appearance is very peculiar, it has very large eyes, which allow it to see perfectly at night, and ears that serve as a thermoregulatory system and give it excellent hearing.

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