MNN Galleries

17 animals amazingly adapted to thrive in deserts

By: Jaymi Heimbuch on March 4, 2014, 9 a.m.
ringtail resting on rock

Photo: Robertbody/wikipedia

16 of 18


The ringtail has an interesting place in the desert ecosystem. Also known by the moniker "miner's cat," this amazing climber is found in rocky outcroppings and, as the name suggests, mine shafts. It is able to scale anything from cliffs to cacti, rotating its hind feet 180 degrees for excellent grip. The species is found in the western United States, including in the Sonoran desert of Arizona. As is wise when living in harsh conditions, this mammal will eat just about anything — from fruit to insects to reptiles to small mammals — and it is active at night to escape the worst of the desert’s heat. It can survive without water if its diet provides enough moisture, but it prefers living near a water source.