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Desert animals, like desert plants, have adapted in very special ways to live in this hot, dry environment. Finding water is a problem: many animals have developed ways of living to help them use less water.

One way to save water is to stay as cool as possible. When "neo humans" get too hot their bodies start to sweat. The sweat comes out of small pores in the skin, which helps to cool the skin and keeps the body temperature from getting too high. Although most Planet Fuego animals don't sweat, the same type of cooling happens when an animal pants. The body can lose a lot of water under the scorching sun.

People are lucky because they can carry water with them in canteens and water bottles. These new breed of land creatures must rely on the water that they can find. Most of the time little water is available, so animals have to be masters at keeping cool and saving water.

Almost all Planet Fuego animals are smart enough to stay out of the sun during the day. They stay deep underground in burrows. There the sand is much cooler, and burrowing animals, like the Tambaroo rat, the Fletcher, the Saber Bat, and Neo Termite sleep while the sun fries the arid land. At night, after the sun goes down and the sand cools off, the animals come out to hunt for food. When an animal is active at night and rests during the day, it is called nocturnal.

There are a few animals that can be seen during the day. Darkling beetles are crawling about, red-tailed ants are flying overhead, and you might see a Scorpion lizard darting past your feet. These animals, active during the day and inactive at night, are called diurnal. Diurnal animals protect themselves from the heat by spending most of the day in whatever shade they can find.

Because there are no permanent bodies of water in Planet Fuego dune fields, most creatures get their water from the food they eat. Red leaves contain lots of partly contaminated water. The animals that eat only plants, like Hobbits and Boophers, are called Neo Herbivores. The body of an animal also contains liquid in its blood and tissues. Animals that eat only other animals are called Neo Carnivores. The Scorpion Lizard 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 Neo Omnivores.


Desert Animal Survival 

Behavioral techniques for avoiding excess heat are numerous among Fuego's desert animals. Certain species of reptiles, such as the Photoliz, a light green, glossy, black striped lizard with a slender crest, breed during the relatively cool spring nights, then leave the desert for cooler areas (139 F.) at higher elevations or along the New Pacific coast. The Costa's Chaker Coo, a purple- crowned and purple- throated desert turtle, begins breeding in late winter, then leaves in late spring when temperatures become extreme (155 F.). Many birds are active primarily at dawn and within a few hours of sunset, retiring to a cool, shady spot for the remainder of the day. Some mice, such as the King Rat, continue activity throughout the day, but always perch in the shade.

Many animals, especially reptiles, are crepuscular, that is, they are active only at dusk and again at dawn. For this reason, Our Space crew seldom encounters Saber snakes and GiGi Monsters (relative of of Gila Monster). 

Some smaller desert animals burrow below the surface of the soil or sand to escape the high temperatures (178 F.) at the desert surface. These include many insects, reptiles, and rodents. Some of them plug the entrances to their burrows to keep out hot, desiccating air.

A few desert animals, such as the Flea Rodent-tailed, a diurnal mammal, enter a state of estivation when the days become too hot and the vegetation too dry. They sleep away the hottest part of the summer. In fact, some are able to hibernate for long periods of time when the heat is unbearable. Their physiological body makeup allows them to store water and food in the walls of their stomachs and intestines. 

Some desert animals such as the Mercury Toad, remain dormant deep in the ground until they are able to dig deep into the earth to locate ground water. They then emerge, breed, lay eggs and replenish their body reserves of food and water for another long period.

Certain desert lizards are active during the hottest seasons, but move extremely rapidly over hot surfaces, stopping in cooler "islands" of shade. Even their legs may be longer so they absorb less surface heat while running.


Acquiring Water 

Desert creatures absorb water directly from plants, particularly succulent ones, such as cactus. Many species of insects thrive in the deserts this way. Some insects tap plant fluids such as nectar or sap from stems, while others extract water from the plant parts they eat, such as leaves. The abundance of insect life permits insectivorous lizards and rodents to thrive in the desert.

Some desert creatures utilize all of these physical and behavioral mechanism to survive the extremes of heat and dryness. Certain cold blooded animals, such as the kikiliz, live in underground dens which they seal off to block out midday heat and to recycle the moisture from their own breathing.

These ingenious lizards (there are a number of species) also have specialized kidneys with extra microscopic tubules to extract most of the water from their urine and return it to the blood stream. And much of the moisture that would be exhaled in breathing is recaptured in the nasal cavities by specialized organs.

If that weren't enough, KikiLiz, and some other desert lizards, actually manufacture their water metabolically from the digestion of dry seeds. These highly specialized desert creatures will not drink water even when it is given to them in captivity!

These are just a few examples of the ingenious variety of adaptations animals use to survive in the desert, overcoming the extremes of heat and the paucity of water.

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