Monday, March 5, 2012

The African King of the Sand - Three of the Desert's Deadliest Creatures

The animals which currently inhabit the African deserts are some of the oldest species on the planet, and have undergone dramatic changes in terms of adaptation, in order to survive in the harsh conditions of the desert. From lizards to beetles they have a large selection. As the largest desert in Africa, which covers most of the Northern region, the Sahara desert has some of the most diverse creatures in the entire continent. Here we look at three of the creatures whose predatory nature and finely honed survival instincts have made each of them the king of the sand.
The monitor lizard is a reptile with highly poisonous venom, which rivals that of some of the world's most venomous snakes. These cold blooded creatures thrive in the hot temperatures of the Saharan desert during the day, but their bodies almost shut down at night, when the temperatures drop dramatically. This lizard is particularly aggressive when cold, and they feed mainly on insects and rats, or any other small mammals which they come across in the desert.
Sand Vipers are another deadly creature found in the deserts of Africa. These snakes can grow up to 50cm in length, and have horns above their eyes to protect them from the sand and wind. They usually come out at night to hunt for food. During the day, they bury themselves beneath the sand. Sand vipers are hemo-toxic as well venomous, meaning that the animal or person which they bite will not only suffer from tissue damage, but their red blood cells will also be destroyed. These bites are not always fatal, but can be extremely painful. This creature is now considered to be an endangered species, as a result of the degrading environment of the African deserts.
The world's most famous flightless bird also resides in the African deserts. Although the ostrich cannot fly, it compensates for this by being one of the fastest animals on land - it can run at almost 40 miles per hour. The ostrich is also the biggest bird on the planet and has incredibly strong legs, which it uses to kick its predators with. Furthermore, this bird has brilliant hearing abilities and eyesight, which are two of its primary defence mechanisms. Ostriches in the Sahara desert will rarely stray too far from the watering holes, and will generally feed on bush leaves and grass, although they will occasionally eat small animals as well.

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