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April 5, 2017

[9] Other desert amphibians, such as the frog genus Cyclorana, avoid desiccation by burrowing underground during dry periods and forming a cocoon from shed skin: rather than being sloughed off, the skin remains attached to create the cocoon. Rodent mothers produce concentrated milk for their young, and then eat their young's dilute urine and feces to regain some of the water that was lost. Large animals such as camels and carnivores also spend the hottest parts of the day under shade. In the cool nights, the feathers lower and interlock, trapping an insulating layer above the skin. This is brought about by excreting concentrated urine or urine in semisolid state. [40][41] The camel and the saiga antelope also have adaptations to protect their noses from sand: the former has narrow nostrils it can close, and the latter has a large nose with its nostrils set wide apart and far back to prevent sand from entering when grazing. Camels have extra padding on the undersurface of their feet. Camels can close up their nostrils to keep sand out. [5] In terms of fur, however, desert animals have thick insulating coats that impede the conduction of heat towards the body. [13], The Australian water-holding frog conserves water by retaining urine in the bladder, swelling up like a balloon; it then uses its bladder as a water reserve during the dry season. They become darker when burrowing and lighter when basking – both the desert iguana and the zebra-tailed lizard become so pale that they appear to shine due to the amount of light they reflect. The water gained from fat is nearly twice the amount gained from carbohydrates, as the former contains more hydrogen (which determines the amount of water produced). Photo from Wikipedia Commons. Mammalian xerocoles sweat much less than their non-desert counterparts. Xerocole birds such as storks, New World vultures, and ibis urinate on their legs,[11][14] while desert tortoises sometimes salivate on their neck and front legs to keep cool. Burrowing animals come out of their burrow in late night or early morning when moisture content in their burrow and outside atmosphere is almost equal. [13], To excrete nitrogenous waste products, mammals (and most amphibians) excrete urea diluted in water. [13], Carnivores derive water from their prey's meat and blood. Desert cats paws have wide soles thickly covered with fur which enables them to walk comfortably even on hot sand. Though desert birds lack sweat glands, they can still take advantage of evaporative cooling by panting, which cools the trachea and lungs, and gular flapping, which consists of rapidly fluttering the gular skin to move air over the inner mouth and throat. Because uric acid is less toxic than urea, it does not need to be dissolved in water to be excreted (as such, it is largely insoluble). They run after their prey very fast and scared with their paws and speed. Birds adjust their feathers to create or dissipate an insulating layer, as typified by the ostrich. Desert mammals also have longer loops of Henle, structures whose efficiency in concentrating urine is directly proportional to their length. Xerocole birds such as storks, New World vultures, and ibis urinate on their legs, while desert tortoises sometimes salivate on their neck and front legs to keep cool. Desert mammals have longer and more deeply inset nephrons,[17] as well as smaller and fewer cortical and juxtamedullary glomeruli (glomeruli being capillary networks where both fluid and waste are extracted from blood). For example, while reptiles are able to operate at temperatures exceeding optima, they become sluggish when cold. To conserve water, they both avoid evaporation and concentrate excretions (i.e. [13], Some animals pour bodily fluids on themselves to take advantage of evaporative cooling. Many xerocoles, especially rodents, estivate in the summer, becoming more dormant. In insects, the rectal gland also absorbs water, and the insects excrete dry pellets. Some animals seal their burrows to keep them moist. Camels can further conserve water by closing an orifice in their stomach to create two compartments: one for water and one for food. [9] Some xerocoles change their activity patterns depending on the season: nocturnal ants, for example, become diurnal during colder periods.

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