In 1991, I made my first trip to the desert. It was near the town of Safford, Arizona. The desert began at the end of the street where my brother and his wife lived. I spent many hours wandering around, watching the animals scurry for cover as I passed. I was amazed, because it was such a stark contrast to the green verdant forests of my home state of Minnesota. Whereas the forest hid everything from view, in the open terrain of the desert, life seemed open and exposed. From that day on, I would return again and again to the desert, to wander among the sage and Palo Verde trees, to to flip rocks over looking for reptiles and scorpions. So it was only natural when I began as a scientific illustrator one subject of special interest would be the animals of the desert. I'll probably be adding more images to this gallery soon, but if you have a specific desert animal you'd like to see or would like information on having a custom drawing done please send me an email.
Deserts are defined as areas that receive less than 10 inches of precipitation per year. They cover about 1/5 or 20% of the land on earth. There are cold deserts and hot (the Gobi Desert in Asia is an example of a cold desert, whereas the Sahara in Africa is a hot one.) The animals that live in them are specially adapted to the harsh conditions found in these dry and hot places. All manners of animals can be found in deserts; amphibians, reptiles, invertebrates, birds and even fish have evolved to meet the various challenges. Some animals, like camels, have adapted to be able to go many days without water. Other animals, like reptiles have evolved ingenious ways of procuring water, like the thorny devil in Australia, that can absorb water directly through it's skin. Some animals in the desert are able to avoid the heat of the desert by only being active at night, like bats, snakes, foxes and some rodents. Other animals, such as the Spadefoot Toad, spends much of it's life burrowed underground, and emerge rarely, usually only during the rainy season when large deluges of water flood areas of the desert.