Common Critters in the Desert - The Viking Abroad
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Common Critters in the Desert

06 Nov Common Critters in the Desert

Whether you are just driving through a desert climate, or you are on a hiking or camping trip, it is important to familiarize yourself with some of the wildlife that abounds in this type of setting. Here are some of the most common creatures you will encounter in the desert.


These funny looking birds are not just seen in classic cartoons. Roadrunners, hence their name, can reach impressive speeds of up to twenty miles per hour, and vastly prefer ground transportation to their flight ability. They are extremely resourceful and use materials such as snakeskin to make nests for their young. Roadrunners are usually seen in the southern half of the United States as well as Mexico. Their brown appearance and quick speed make them very hard to spot, as they tend to blend into their surroundings well. You will be very lucky if you are able to spot one of these birds up close during your time in the desert. 


Although most of the time you associated cockroaches with the pests that you do not want in your home, they are abundant in dry, arid climates such as the desert. There are many different species of cockroaches, all of which are highly adaptable. For instance, the Brown Banded Cockroach is more prevalent in these types of areas because it thrives in higher temperatures. Because these bugs like areas that are dry and warm, they are more likely to congregate in heated areas, such as the inside of tents. They are also, like many bugs, the most active during the nighttime hours. If they are in your home, they are most likely to be found away from water sources and in higher, drier places. 


Coyotes are extremely common in the desert. Because they can eat almost anything, they are extremely adaptable and can adjust to a wide variety of warmer climates. They most commonly consume small mammals, like rodents. One unique trait about coyotes is that they are similar enough to the domesticated dog to be able to mate with them and produce offspring. Like many types of desert wildlife, coyotes are primarily active during the hours after the sun goes down, doing their hunting in this time frame as well. Although generally solitary animals, they are adept at becoming functional groups in order to accomplish a common goal, such as taking down a large piece of prey. 


These armored, pincered beasts are primarily abundant in the southwest United States, as well as Mexico. Like other desert wildlife, scorpions tend to be dormant during the sunlight hours and emerge for activity at nightfall. Their diet consists of a vast array of insects and bugs, and even larger animals like mice and lizards. They are most notably known for their stingers, which are armored and distinctly curved upwards, as well as their eight legs. When they are sheltering during the daytime, scorpions can be found in cool, shaded areas, such as under rocks and in cracks in the ground. It is important to keep an eye out for scorpions when the sun sets, and avoid areas where they might be lurking. 


Perhaps one of the most feared animals to inhabit the desert, the rattlesnake is most known for the end of its tail, and the unique rattling noise it makes when threatened or in danger. Because they are reptiles, rattlesnakes will emerge during sunny weather to warm their bodies. This is especially true in areas like roads. Like other species of snakes, they diet on rodents, rabbits or squirrels depending on what food sources are easily available. If you are bitten by a rattlesnake while in the desert, it is vital to seek medical care immediately. 

Although there is a myriad of wildlife in the desert, it does not have to be difficult to identify species to look out for and be weary of. With these tips, you are guaranteed to know every type of animal you are likely to encounter. 


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