Saudi Arabia has more animal life than one might expect, considering the country's hot climate, limited plant life and lack of rivers. Most of the animal life is able to live either in the north or along the southern coastline. The most important domestic Arabian animal is the dromedary camel, whose body is uniquely built for harsh desert conditions. Its single hump stores fat which can be broken down into fluids over long periods of time, so that it can go for several weeks without water ' although when it does drink, it can swallow up to 30 gallons in about 10 minutes. The camel can also close its nostrils for short periods of time to protect against blowing sand, and it has two rows of eyelashes to protect its eyes against sand and sun. The camel also lives in northern Africa and southwest Asia.
Many other mammals that live in Saudi Arabia are relatives of American or European wild mammals, but that have special adaptations to the desert. For example, the Arabian wolf is smaller and longer limbed than its North American counterpart, the Gray Wolf
. It also has larger ears in order to disperse its body heat, as dogs cannot sweat. The Arabian Oryx
is a small stocky antelope (about three feet tall at the shoulder) with long, nearly straight goatlike horns and black markings along its face, which protect its eyes from the glare of the sun. The Oryx is hunted by wolves and humans and in the 1970s it became extinct in the wild. However, zoos were able to breed them in captivity and re-introduce them to the wild; it is currently classified as a threatened species. The mongoose, a distant relative of the weasel, is at home in any arid conditions and lives in Africa and southern Asia as well as Saudi Arabia. The mongoose typically doesn't live in a group. Its short clawed legs are used for digging; it makes extensive burrows both for living in and for hunting (it mostly eats insects and small snakes but will also eat smaller birds or eggs if it is convenient). The mongoose can be tamed and kept as a pet, but its aggressive burrowing makes it a hazard to any non-desert area. The Fennec
fox is also a burrower, with thick fur on its paws and thick light fur to guard against the sun. At two and a half pounds, the Fennec fox is the smallest of all the wild dogs, but it has enormous ears which both disperse body heat and enable it to hear other predators at great distances. Some people keep Fennecs as pets but this is not encouraged as they are more comfortable in the wild and not easy to tame. The sand cat
, at first glance, appears like any stray cat one would find in America, but it also has long fur protecting its paws and larger, highly developed ears. It is almost completely nocturnal and, like the mongoose and Fennec fox, is a strong burrower.
Other animals that can be found in Saudi Arabia are also at home in Africa, such as baboons, hyenas, scorpions and sand rats.