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We’ve blogged before about desert bird life, which is so varied and very rewarding when one is able to catch sight of it. The desert is also home to a host of fauna, most of which is nocturnal and few in numbers. This makes it exceptionally difficult for us to come across animals in their habitat (and we thought bird watching was tricky…).

The most renowned desert reptiles and mammals:

The Berber skink (or ‘sand fish’) which seemingly swims through the sand

The desert hedgehog

The sand lizard and spiny-tailed Dab lizard

The endangered Dorcas gazelle

The small rodent Jerboa (hunted by the fennec)

The Fennec fox (whose large ears cool their temperature and aid with nocturnal hearing)

The gazelle is altogether more elusive – most of our desert treks pass close to their grazing land, they primarily eat a tall, spiky green shrub (‘garzeem’ in Arabic) so the best chance of sighting one is near the food source. The Arabic word for gazelle is ‘rhazal’ and the village of Mhamid El Ghezlane (pronounced rhazlane) is named for the ‘plain of the gazelles’.

The easiest way to identify animal activity is just after sunrise, when countless animal tracks and footprints pepper the dunes. You’ll probably be surprised at how close to camp our desert friends foray. We’ve identified some animal tracks as belonging to a jerboa and hedgehog – we do remain open to being convinced otherwise (please do contact us with pictures of your own)!

Please get in touch regarding any information about visiting the desert with us.

Note: attribution of third-party images:
“Schneiders skink 001” by Ltshears – Trisha M Shears – Own work. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons
Steven Kline / Telenova Productions – desert hedgehog and Fennecs
Jerboa “Jaculus orientalis Plzen zoo 02.2011” by Николай Усик – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Dorcas_Gazelle_Oued_-Issarouene_Ahaggar – Farid Belbachir c/o Sahara Conservation Fund

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