Covering one-third of the Earth’s land surface, the mystifying deserts continue to expand as these land forms are unearthed with each passing year. To name a few examples of deserts, these are the Dinosaur Desert, Extreme Desert, Diverse Desert, Resourceful Desert, and Surprise Desert. Though, does a desert need to contain sand to be called a desert? How about the temperature? No, they don’t really need sand and they are not necessarily scorching hot. They should just use up more moisture. They are also waterless so they cannot support vegetation.
When visiting arid regions, a Desert Safari Adventure is a must because it is one of the most well-known tourist activities in the Middle East or Africa. Plus, it is saying yes to new adventures to find where you belong. However, with great adventures come great risk takers because stopping at a barren region can be risky and dangerous too.
In a desert, you can find some of the most terrifying animals currently existing such as scorpions, snakes, vultures, cougar, and gila monsters. Even when you’re not finding them, they might already be beside you. Aside from the other obvious reasons like not having sufficient water to utilize or being exposed to the high temperature, the desert also offers thought-provoking stories enveloped in some myths and some facts.
Scorpions are one of the most poisonous animals that are found in the six continents namely Africa, Asia, Australia, North America, South America, and Europe. Despite being poisonous to most preys, around 40 of them have enough poison to kill a person. They can also control their production of venom and the dosage of deadliness it contains. But, that doesn’t make them too innocent because mother scorpions even devour their young when they are left with no choice.
Forgetting all the precautions and hazards, one woman named Kanchana Ketkaew took the risk and resided with more than 5,000 scorpions for 33 days. To mark her bravery, this treacherous episode is now found in the Guinness records.
Coyotes are also known as American Jackals. They are labeled as adaptable because they can adjust in any type of environment as long as there is a sufficient supply of food. They hunt frogs, rodents, rabbits, fish, and deer to satisfy their cravings, but their primary enemies are bears, wolves, and human beings, especially when they attack and threaten them. Defining the word teamwork, these coyotes usually quest in groups because each coyote has his or her own role. For example, one coyote will distract the prey while the others trail behind and surprise it. Truly, they are a force to be reckoned with.
Vultures are divided into two types – Old World and New World, each having a distinct feature. Old Word species rely on eyesight when hunting for food whereas New World species have a good sense of smell as compared to Old World species. In general, vultures are seen when an animal is dying or dead because these animals give them energy and nutrients to carry on. In the desert, it can be terrifying to see vultures “stalking” you. It seems that they are already preying on you at that time.
Though these are terrifying facts about them, vultures can be beneficial to humanity too. For instance, they prevent the spread of diseases such as rabies and anthrax because they kill unhealthy creatures before they transmit them to other beings.
Cactus or cacti come in more than 2,000 varieties with numerous forms and structures. For example, several cacti resemble chandeliers, curled snakes, small boars, or starfishes. All cacti have spongy roots and leaves that can save water to survive in temperate environments. Depending on the species, they can also be fragile and poisonous because their spikes can give off venom that can cause dizziness, illness, or worse, death. Hence, if you are not familiar about a certain cactus, there are lots of risks involved when you encounter it in the desert.
11. No Water
Unless you bring a lifetime supply of water in the desert, you will not be able to survive in the wilderness for so long because it is one of the necessities of life. Even though your body can survive for a few days without drinking water, having no water leads to dehydration. When you are dehydrated, you don’t have the energy to do and finish your daily activities. You are easily tired too. You may also experience constipation and digestive problems. You are at risk of stomach ulcers. Along the way, you start your way to a quick death with the absence of water if you get stuck in the desert.
Snakes are considered the epitome of betrayal. They may look harmless and innocent at times, but deep inside, they may be plotting a plan to devour you. By lying low, they sense the vibrations and know that you are coming. Thus, once you are near, they are prepared to harm you, especially when you threaten them. Their flexible jaws make it possible to eat prey bigger than their heads including human beings.
One bite can either be shaken off and be cured or attack your heart and make breathing difficult. There’s no in between because all its kind will assault and sting you. Though, even after killing them, they can still kill you through their fangs.
Compared to spiders, tarantulas are distinguished as the larger species with hairy bodies and legs. They are often found in tropical, subtropical, and desert regions. Most of them are found in South America. Though they are petrifying and spine-chilling in appearance, according to National Geographic, their stings are as toxic as bee stings, which means that they are not too dangerous, but you still have to be careful. When tarantulas feel threatened, they throw needle-like barbed hairs at attackers that can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions. Yet, everything has its own weakness. For tarantulas, falling can be fatal. They can get killed because they have thin skin and fragile bodies.
8. Burning Temperature
The body can only bear the hot temperature for so long, but just because you think you can tolerate it does not mean your body can too because it has its own limits. The extreme heat can result in severe sunburn, heat exhaustion, heat edema, heat rashes, heat cramps, heat stroke, etc. Those who are not used to the hot temperature are more irritable and less focused. Thus, if you are not comfortable and you have this strange feeling inside of you, move to a cooler or shaded area and apply a cold or wet cloth before you call for medical assistance.
7. Ghost Towns
As seen on horror movies and read in horror stories, the dead will creep on you, particularly when they still wanted to live. There are many horror stories, factual or not, that took place in deserts. For example, the story of the Lady in White became famous in the state of California. The Lady in White was supposed to meet her fiancé in Sacramento, but her entourage did not pick her up. Thus, she waited for nothing. She eventually got terminally ill due to malnutrition and dehydration. When she died, the residents buried her in Campo Santo. She still appears as the Lady in White even with the dirt on her gown to the passengers at Vallecito Station.
6. People Doing Drugs
The desert is a great hideout for drug users. We have already established that taking drugs can be beneficial because it can cure some illnesses, but when we speak of drug abuse, that is a different thing. Excessive usage of cannabis, heroin, ecstasy, etc. has its side effects because drugs these can affect our moods. Users may experience panic attacks, hallucinations, and depression.
Moreover, in the desert, when people are blinded because they are under the influence of drugs, they can do things that are unacceptable. They can hurt you for no reason. They can kill people, too. Thus, it is important to be vigilant around drug users whether you are in the desert or not.
5. Black Widow Spiders
Black Widow Spiders are the deadliest spiders in North America. According to the North Carolina State University (NCSU), its venom is fifteen times stronger than a rattlesnake’s. It also depends on the black widow spider that bit you because only female ones when disturbed can severely poison other creatures.
How can you know if it’s a female? There is a red hourglass shape on the abdomen. Nevertheless, it is not that dangerous to human beings as it is a rare scenario that its bite can lead to death. Then again, it can cause nausea, profuse sweating, abdominal pain, muscle aches, etc.
As defined by Merriam-Webster, a mirage is “an optical effect that is sometimes seen at sea, in the desert, or over a hot pavement, that may have the appearance of a pool of water or mirror in which distant objects are seen inverted”. It can also be caused by a variation in the temperature. But, an optical illusion may or may not be entertaining. For visitors, mirages are kind of creepy because they sometimes appear out of nowhere. Try imagining being stranded in the middle of the desert and a mirage suddenly pops out. Won’t you be staggered or surprised?
Tumbleweeds are West America’s trademark. They are usually found on several deserts and side roads. But, they are of Ukraine origin because Ukrainian farmers brought them along. They are even called Russian thistles. They break away from their roots and are driven around by the wind.
When they experience the warm or temperate weather, they bloom into thorny flowering plants and can stretch up to 3 feet. They also spread their own seeds, which basically defies the duties of farmers because they spread their own kind. A friendly reminder, though, that tumbleweeds can cause wounds or minor injuries because of their thorny structure so beware of them.
Depending on the location it can be seen, the cougar has a variety of names with more than 40 terms in English, such as mountain lion, puma, mountain cat, panther, catamount, etc. Just because it cannot roar like the kings of the jungle – lions, and tigers – doesn’t mean it cannot kill their prey. In fact, this carnivorous beast feeds on deer, moose, elk, horses, sheep, etc. It can jump almost 20 feet high and attack any threatening being even if it is 20-40 feet away. Unlike its predators, male cougars typically roam around on their own while female cougars stay with their young.
1. Gila Monsters
Gila monsters were discovered in Arizona’s Gila River. Hence, they were named so. They are one of the two venomous lizards existing in the world, but they are also one of the laziest creatures. They are usually on the lazy side hiding in their homes so they prefer the easy prey. They can also store food for months and carry on with life without eating for a long time.
Instead of hunting, they will more likely inject their venomous saliva on their desired prey. However, their venom is not deadly to human beings in most cases. Yet, it can cause swelling, vomiting, high blood pressure, weakness, etc. Up to date, there are no antidotes for their venomous saliva.
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