Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park
spacer Virtual Tour of the Desert Discovery Trail
<< previous stop  
Main Tour Map

Stop 5
Desert Animal Adaptations

banner-tailed kangaroo rat (Dipodomys spectabilis)
This banner-tailed kangaroo rat is distinctive with its black and white tail.

Desert animals have a variety of physical adaptations to prevent overheating and reduce water loss.  For example, jackrabbits have long ears and insects have impermeable body coverings. Many behavioral adaptations (such as being nocturnal and living in burrows) also enable animals to survive in the desert.

The Merriam's kangaroo rat (Dipodomys merriami) is one of the three kangaroo rat species found in this area.  Other species are the banner-tailed kangaroo rat (Dipodomys spectabilis) and the Ord's kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ordii).  Specialized nasal passages and kidneys reduces water loss from the body.

Spadefoot toads escape the harshest desert conditions by living underground in a state of dormancy during most of the year (estivating). When heavy rains arrive, they come to the surface to feed and reproduce quickly before the water disappears again.

Many rodents live in burrows to escape the heat of the day.  Other animals, such as snakes and lizards, will occupy abandoned burrows in order to take advantage of the cooler temperatures inside