July Curator’s Corner

While many people think Nevada deserts are lifeless wastelands, these areas have a diverse array of wildlife uniquely adapted to such environments. Did you know that Nevada deserts are home to 3-inch-long scorpions, bats that eat scorpions, owls that nest in the ground, large hairy spiders, and rodents that rarely drink water?

Life has found a way in the Great Basin and Mojave Deserts of the Silver State. Regions made arid around 10 million years ago due to the uplift of the Sierra Nevada. When the Sierra Nevada reached their current heights, it blocked moist air masses coming off of the Pacific Ocean turning the downwind regions into their modern deserts.

To deal with this situation many animals have become nocturnal, being active at night. The cooler temperatures are less stressful on the animals and require them to utilize less water. Some animals burrow underground to avoid the heat of the surface, like our state reptile the Desert Tortoise. Some animals absorb water from the food they eat. Even seeds contain a little bit of water. When an animal gets water from the food they eat, that is called metabolic water. One of the more unique ways of dealing with the desert is the kangaroo rat. These cute little rodents have an extra long tube that runs from the kidneys to the bladder, this extra long tube allows for more surface area to recycle water already in the animal’s body.

desert scorpion