The Sonoran Desert

North America’s Sonoran Desert is enormous. It also receives enough rainfall to support a huge variety of life.

The saguaro cactus, widely found in the Sonoran Desert, grows incredibly slowly just 2.5 cm (1 in) a year – but it can reach heights of 15 m (50 ft)!

There are few trees in the Sonoran Desert, so the Gila woodpecker makes its nest in a cactus stem. It will use the nest for just one year, before moving on.

Velvet ants are actually wasps. Only the males have wings. Females lack wings, but they have a nasty sting.

The most famous bird in the Sonoran Desert is the roadrunner, which scampers along at speeds of up to 30 kph (18 mph), hunting small mammals, reptiles, and birds.

From lizards to snakes to tortoises, many reptiles have successfully adapted to living in the Sonoran Desert.

Gila monster is one of the world’s two venomous lizards.

Desert tortoises spend 95 per cent of their time underground.

Rattlesnakes warn off predators by shaking a rattle on their tail.

King snakes take their name from their ability to eat other snakes.

The ringtail cat isn’t a cat: it’s related to the racoon. But it will clean itself very much like a cat.

Ringtail cats are nocturnal, emerging to hunt rats, mice, squirrels, frogs, and insects.

Following rain, this cactus’s stem swells as the plant takes in water. It can absorb the weight in water of a small car.

A peccary may look like a pig, but it is only distantly related. Peccaries have poor eyesight, but a good sense of smell. They also produce a strong smell.

Q. Are there any forests in the Sonoran Desert?

A. There are no trees, but there are forests of saguaro cacti.

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