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Desert Wildlife

Although at first glance the desert seems to have little in the way of wildlife, it actually contains large, diverse populations. The desert environment may seem an unlikely place for animals to thrive or even exist. However, desert animals have adapted to their environment, and each fills an important niche in the desert ecosystem.

Some animals survive only in the Mojave Desert, these are called endemic species. Some animals live throughout all the southwestern desert areas and some are merely passing through on a migratory path. Regardless, whether living permanently in the Mojave, staying only seasonally or flying by, adaptations to the extreme climate and lack of water must be made. Endemic species usually have adapted to these conditions to the highest degree.

California Department Fish & Game
National Park Service
& others

Where to go ...

Watchable Wildlife Areas

Places you can go to increase your chances of seeing desert wildlife in nature.
Long-nosed Leopard Lizard

Special Wildlife Sections

Feral Animals

Natural History Book Store

Wildlife by Type


    ... the class of vertebrate animals primarily characterized by the presence of ...


    Reptiles are cold-blooded and don't have a constant body temperature. They are only able to ...


    Birds (class Aves) are bipedal, warm-blooded, vertebrate animals that lay eggs.


    Insects, a major group of arthropods, have an exoskeleton ...

Wildlife by Predation


    Predation is an interaction between animals in which one captures and feeds upon ...


    The term prey refers to an animal that is sought, captured, and eaten ...

Wildlife by Diet

Many animals get their water from the food they eat. Green leaves contain lots of water. The animals that eat only plants, like the cottontail and chuckwalla, are called herbivores. The body of an animal also contains liquid in its blood and tissues. Animals that eat only other animals are called carnivores. The coyote will eat just about anything, plant or animal. That's what makes him a master at desert survival. Animals that eat both plants and other animals are called omnivores.


    Carnivores are predators and chiefly eat meat, although some will consume ...


    Omnivores are animals which consume both other animals and plants.


    An herbivore is an animal that eats only plants and no meat. However, many herbivores will eat ...


    Any animal with a diet that consists chiefly of insects and similar small creatures is an insectivore.


    An organism that habitually feeds on refuse or carrion.

Wildlife by Activity


    Diurnal animals protect themselves from the heat by spending most of the day ...


    Nocturnal animals are active at night and ...

    Wildlife by Geography

    National Parks & Refuges

      Joshua Tree

      Despite the impression that the desert is ...

      Death Valley

      Despite those extremes it is home to a diverse ...

      Red Rock Canyon NCA

      Mammals, reptiles & birds of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area ...

      Hoover Dam/Lake Mead

      ... alive with plants, animals, insects, fish and ...

      Havasu NWR

      It is no wonder that rare birds find a haven here within the protected marshes and miles of Colorado River shoreline. Havasu NWR forms a ...

      Ash Meadows

      ... a haven for wildlife, especially rare ...

      Grand Canyon

      Its large size, relatively unfragmented and ...


      With habitats ranging from thick foothill ...


      Contained within the park are ...
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