Is the desert alive?
Most of Oman is covered by desert. This is not an easy habitat for animals and plants. Nevertheless, there are also some living beings in the desert of Oman who have adapted perfectly to their environment and who use very special techniques to find their way in such a hostile environment. Thus, both the animal and the vegetable inhabitants of the desert are true adapters and survivors.
Which plants grow in Oman?
Above all, the extreme heat and lack of water make it difficult for plants to survive in the desert. But thanks to special techniques, many plants can still cope in the desert. For example, there are plants that cannot be seen for most of the year. They bury themselves in the sand during the long, hot dry seasons, only to sprout out of the ground when it rains and to present themselves in all their glory for a short time. This little miracle can be seen in the Disney film “The Desert Lives”.
Other plants are part of the landscape all year round and can withstand the heat day in and day out. To do this, they have trained their roots in such a way that they reach several meters into the ground in order to access the precious groundwater. Many plant leaves have a very small surface that is additionally covered by a hard protective layer, so that they do not dry out from the heat and the water that was laboriously obtained does not evaporate.
Another technique to counteract evaporation are ribbed surfaces on the leaves, as these create shadows and facilitate the exchange of heat with the environment.
Please do not eat!
As if the heat and lack of water were not enough, the plants of the desert also have to protect themselves from being eaten. In addition, some produce disgusting or even poisonous juices. Others have sharp thorns that keep animals from eating.
Many water extraction facilities have been built since Oman was settled. Usually, water is transported from the mountains or oases through pipes to the cities. In addition, the population has ensured that plants such as eucalyptus, oleander and orchids grow in Oman. These were imported from other countries.
Which animals live in Oman?
The dry desert is particularly suitable as a habitat for cold-blooded animals. These include reptiles and insects. They have the advantage over mammals that they do not cool themselves by sweating, which would mean water consumption, but by their shell.
The name of the desert monitor already reveals that it is perfectly adapted to its environment. In addition to him, there is also the house gecko, which can be found mainly in hotel complexes and residential areas, where he eats insects and is therefore a popular roommate.
Snakes in Oman
Snakes also inhabit Oman. Some of them are poisonous, such as the earth otter or the Arabian cobra. The puff adder is even more poisonous. At 80 centimeters, it is not very tall, but all the more dangerous. You can recognize the snake by its almost triangular head and its vertical pupils. You can see this on the photo opposite. But many snakes in Oman are non-toxic species such as the wadi racer, the lizard snake or the Arabian sand boa.
What insects are there in Oman?
Many species of insects live in Oman. In the inhabited areas, cockroaches, mosquitoes and horseflies in particular feel at home, because there is both waste and people to suckle blood. These insects are annoying, but hardly dangerous.
It is different with scorpions and spiders. The thick-tailed scorpion and the roller spider, which can cause painful bite wounds, or the black widow are very poisonous.
Hibernation in summer
Mammals avoid the heat by being mostly nocturnal and sleeping secluded in the shade during the day. A similar strategy has the gerbil that simply sleeping during hot spells in the summer in cool soil or rock holes and comes out again until the winter, when the heat is bearable.
Water intake is particularly difficult for desert dwellers. Desert foxes or jackals get around this problem by simply not drinking at all. The liquid in their food is enough for them to survive. To save water and energy, most animals move very slowly and as little as possible, because the muscle activity would generate heat. Jackals and other carnivores therefore sneak up slowly and unnoticed to their prey, only to strike at lightning speed.
Rare and economical animals
Rare animals such as the Arabian oryx were at times almost extinct and could only be saved from extinction through extensive breeding programs. Species such as the Nubian Ibex and the Black Porcupine are even exclusively native to Oman, a country located in Middle East according to animalerts.
The camel is considered the desert inhabitant par excellence. A special feature of the camel are its two humps, because the animals store fat in them, which means they can go without food for a long time. The animal is economical when it comes to water consumption because it hardly excretes any liquid with its faeces and urine and regulates its body temperature in such a way that it does not lose any water. Incidentally, this also applies to the single-humped dromedary.
More than 60 species of birds can be found in Oman. Some circling over the dry desert, other species use the coastal area for wintering and still others find a rich food supply in the waste of the cities.
What is there under water?
The underwater world of Oman in the Indian Ocean is fascinating and diverse. The warm water offers the perfect habitat for many coral species. Many snails and mussels also feel good in the warm water.
The sharks, which are numerous in the waters off Oman, are also particularly impressive. Here the gray reef shark, the blue shark, the tiger shark and the hammerhead shark, which is particularly noticeable due to its hammer-like appearance of the snout. The whale shark is particularly impressive because of its size, because at 14 meters in length it is the largest living fish. However, it is not dangerous for humans, because it feeds exclusively on plankton. The other shark species also rarely attack people because, like most animals, they just want to be left alone.