Xeric Adaptations of Desert Animals:
These xerocoles or drought-resistant animals are active and carry their normal function throughout the year. They are able to circumvent aridity and heat through morpho-physiological adaptations or by modifying their feeding activity patterns-
(1) Fossorial Habit- Most desert animals live in burrows during the daytime where the temperature is low and humidity is high.
(2) Nocturnal Habit- The animals come out of burrows during the night when it is cool outside. Auroral (early morning) and vesperal (late evening) forms are also common.
(3) Camels living in the desert have soft and broad feet with pads, long eyelashes and muscular nostrils to be closed for protection from blown sand and, a fatty hump at the back as a source of reserve food, and a reserve water supply in the stomach. Because of these adaptive features, camels can survive without food and water for weeks and can walk long distances on the land. Camels are described as “ships of the desert”.
(4) The Kangaroo rat conserves water by excreting solid urine and can live from birth to death without even drinking water. It seals its burrow by day to keep its chamber moist, thus can live without drinking water throughout its life. It obtains water from its own metabolic processes and from hygroscopic water in its food.
(5) Desert animals possess thick horny skin or water proof exoskeleton for preventing evaporation from the body.
(6) A desert lizard, Moloch, can absorb water through its hygroscopic skin.
(7) Some African antelopes (such as Oryx) stores heat in their body during the day. This results in a much rise in body temperature. They also reduce their metabolic rate and conserve water by decreasing the rate of internal production of calories, thus reducing the amount of evaporating cooling. These antelopes normally do not drink water, they use metabolic water and also feeds on succulent grasses and shrubs.