Cheetahs inhabit the savannah and arid open grassland of Africa, south of the Sahara Arabia, Iran and as far as east Turkistan. Cheetahs are the world’s fastest land animals and are capable of sprinting at speeds up to 70 miles per hour. Unlike other big cats, cheetahs do not roar and have small feet with blunt claws that do not retract. The population of mature cheetah continues to drop. The population last reported was under 7,000 animals.
African Wild Dog
African wild dogs live in widely distributed, fragmented populations throughout the grasslands, savannahs and open woodlands of Africa. African wild dogs sometimes known as the Cape hunting dog, is quite different from the more familiar domestic dog or gray wolf. It has highly specialized sharp shearing teeth, large round ears and only four toes on its front feet, rather than five. Currently, these predators face increasing threats posed by habitat loss and diseases from non-native species.
Burrowing owls unlike most other owls are largely diurnal (active during the day) and live on ground. They perch during daytime at the entrance to their burrows and nest in single pairs, or more commonly, in small colonies. Though they can dig their own burrows, they usually enlarge one dug by a small mammal, such as a squirrel or other rodent. They use their wings, beaks and feet for modifying or creating a burrow. These owls have lost much habitat due to urban or agricultural development.
Desert Tortoise are native to the Mojave and Sonoran Desert; imported to the Colorado desert by man. They live in washes, flats or hillsides. The habitat must have suitable soils and terrain for constructing a burrow. The tortoise is a vegetarian. Their food preferences depend on locality and availability of the food items. In general, tortoises in California feed on herbaceous perennial and annual wildflowers. Desert Tortoise of the Mojave Desert have been listed as a Threatened Species.
The fennec fox is well adapted to life in the desert. Its feet have soft fur on the soles to protect them from the heat and aid in walking on loose sand. Its large ears function like radiators to disperse heat. The fox can survive without water for extended periods, taking moisture from food and staying below ground during the heat of the day. The fennec fox mates for life and lives in family units of up to ten individuals.
Giraffes are the tallest animals in the world. Males can grow over 18 feet tall. This is tall enough to look into a second story window. The babies are called calves. Females, after an approximate 15-month gestation period, will give birth standing up. New calves can be over 6 feet tall at birth. Giraffes are listed as vulnerable. It is thought that less than 70,000 remain in the wild and this number continues to drop.
Jaguars have an expansive range, from the Southwest USA to Patagonia. In the USA they have been sighted southwest of Tucson, AZ at approximately 4,000 feet elevation. They occupy a variety of habitats, but generally occur in well-vegetated areas. They are the third largest cat in the world, jaguars may weigh up to 300 pounds and are strong swimmers and climbers. Populations have been greatly reduced in areas where humans have settled.
Meerkats dwell in the savannahs and grasslands of South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Angola. Their diet consists of insects, but they will also eat small vertebrates, eggs and plants. Highly social, a meerkat pack may consist of more the one family group of as many as 10 to 15 individuals. Family members take turns standing guard in a tripod pose, scanning the area for possible predators while others feed. A group of meerkats are known as a mob.
The Mexican Wolf is the smallest subspecies of gray wolves are highly social and mate for life. Females give birth every other year. Breeding occurs in later winter and after a 63-day gestation, some four to eight blind and helpless pups are born in a den. The male hunts to feed his mate during the six to eight weeks nursing period. After a month or so the pups emerge from the den to receive food from both parents and other pack members.
Mountain Lions are one of the largest cats in North America, mountain lions (also known as cougars or pumas) can be up to six feet in length, exclusive of their tails. Mountain lions are powerfully built, with large paws and sharp claws. Their hind legs are larger and more muscular than their front legs to give them great jumping power. Mountain lions can jump 18 feet from the ground into a tree, and they have been known to jump 20 feet up or down a hillside.
Adopt Another Animal
You can help become an important part of The Living Desert's conservation efforts through our Animal Adopt! Program. Help provide food, health care, and housing for your favorite Living Desert animals by taking wildlife into your heart.
No two zebras look exactly alike, as stripes vary between individuals they may serve as identification, like fingerprints. Zebras are social animals that spend time in herds. They graze together, primarily on grass, and even groom one another. Grevy’s Zebras are the largest of all wild equines. This species is found in northern Kenya, Somalia and eastern Ethiopia. The Grevy’s zebra is listed as Endangered. Its numbers continue to drop throughout it range.
You can help become an important part of The Living Desert’s conservation efforts through our Animal Adopt! Program. Help provide food, health care, and housing for your favorite Living Desert animals by taking wildlife into your heart.