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White Sands National Park Animals

As in most deserts, many animals in the white sands have developed nocturnal habits to escape predators and the heat. But even at night, a dark colored rodent living in a sea of white would be an open invitation to lunch for a hungry coyote, fox, owl, or any other predator. So, since the formation of the dunes beginning thousands of years ago, animals living in the dunes have developed several specialized habits for surviving. There are forms of white reptiles, mammals, and invertebrates that blend with their white background (you probably won't see them unless they move). Light coloration also probably serves to aid the animal in temperature regulation.

Of the 44 species of mammals, 26 species of reptiles, 6 species of amphibians and nearly 100 families of insects recorded on the monument, the vast majority have normal coloration. There are records of 3 species of lizards, one amphibian, 3 mammals, 4 insects, and 3 forms of spiders and scorpions found on the white sands that exhibit light coloration. The lizards can be readily observed in the interdunal areas where vegetation can be found for shade and protection. The mammals are primarily noctournal, so are not as easily observed. The light-colored amphibian, the spadefoot toad, only ventures from underground following thunderstorms when water is available for breeding and egg-laying in the pools of rainwater, where tadpoles quickly develop into adults and burrow into the moist sand, where they await the next season's storms.

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