How Do Animals Survive in the Outback?

How Do Animals Survive in the Outback?

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 04/30/2020

Reading time: 3 mins

We’ve written about the amazing wildlife in the Australian outback many times before but we’ve never touched on exactly how these incredible animals survive.

Every animal is different however there are a few common traits that many outback dwelling animals have that collectively help them survive in such extreme conditions.

  • Keeping Cool

    Despite daily searing heat, there are many different ways animals keep cool in the outback.

    One common way is to burrow underground! Though the surface is hot and absorbs much of the suns dry heat, animals can escape it easily burrowing underneath the top layer of dirt and dust. The deeper they dig their burrow the cooler the ground becomes! Burrowing animals can simply stay underground during the hottest parts of the day to avoid overheating.

    Bigger animals, like a kangaroo, for example, don’t have the luxury of being able to just burrow into the ground. Where possible, kangaroos will seek shade, however in the vast desert there isn’t many trees available to huddle under. Instead, kangaroos lick their wrists. Yes, you read that correctly!

    The kangaroos feel cooler as their saliva evaporates off their fur. So, to feel cooler quicker, they lick their forearms until they are soaked! Kind of gross, kind of ingenious.

  • Night-time happenings

    In line with keeping cool in the hottest part of the day, many outback animals are nocturnal!

    Sleeping through the day has a few benefits for our nocturnal outback friends. Firstly, it means they avoid risking any human interaction during the day. Humans are one of the biggest threats to outback animals, so if you do see any, stay back!

    More importantly, though, the nights are far cooler than the days in the outback. In fact, nights can be quite pleasant even cold in the outback. This massive drop of temperature is incredibly useful in not only avoiding dehydration and overheating, but also means that the ground isn’t physically too hot for the animals to run on.

    Sleep all day, party all night, it’s the mantra of the outback!

  • Avoiding dehydration

    One of the biggest hurdles for animals in the outback is access to water. With very minimal yearly rainfall and waterholes being few and far between, hydration can be an issue for some animals.

    There are a few ways that animals have adapted to the lack of water available to them. Wild camels store large fat reserves in their humps that assist in providing hydration. Thorny devil lizards absorb moisture through their skin. How amazing is that!

    The Australian bilby takes its hydration even one step further and never drinks water. They have adapted so well to living in the outback that the only hydration they need comes from their food. Nature is amazing.

Surviving the outback

As you can see it takes a very special type of animal to survive in the harsh Australian Outback. The animals here have adapted in amazing ways to this unique environment.

Related article: Protecting yourself in the Northern Territory heat

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.