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Desert Diary
Culture/Burrow Life


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Most of us don't live in burrows, though people who spend their days in windowless offices might argue that there's little difference. If we look around at our Chihuahuan Desert animals, though, we'll see that most are quite happy to make the underground their home. There really are a lot of advantages. It's both cooler and warmer underground--not at the same time, of course. In our desert sun, the ground surface reaches 140° or more; but soil is a great insulator, and a burrow is much cooler. In winter, the soil retains much of its warm-season heat at relatively shallow depths, and seeds and other stored foods are protected from the elements and theft. Then too, such large creatures as coyotes and bobcats usually don't consider small prey worthy of the effort of digging them out.

Of course, there are a few drawbacks. Although burrows are a great protection against coyotes and bobcats, such predators as weasels and snakes are quite at home in them, and an occupant may wish frantically for a nearby back door.
pen and ink

Listen to the Audio (mp3 format) as recorded by KTEP, Public Radio for the Southwest.


Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.