Written Sarah Schroeder
Even though Qatar seems like a place that doesn’t allow too many animal species to exist, there are quite a few that find their permanent home here or reside in the warm winter months in Qatar. Most of these animals are rather rare and shy. So I present to you; the 10 most interesting and fascinating animals that share this country with us.
This beauty here is the Arabian Oryx. It is a small antelope and the proud national animal of Qatar. The Oryx, with its straight horns and triangular beauty spot on top of its nose, has gone a long way of fighting its extinction and being reintroduced into the wild in the 1980s. The species is now only vulnerable, which is a great achievement after near extinction, though it will still need time until it is not endangered at all.
In Qatar there are 6 different kinds of Falcons; the Amur Falcon, Sooty Falcon, Lanner Falcon, Saker Falcon, Peregrine Falcon and the Barbary Falcon. The Falcon is a very important animal in Qatar as it had been used as a hunting tool because of its sharp eyesight, and it is associated with being noble and wealthy. It is a popular pet, but has to be cared for appropriately and undergo intensive training.
This little cutie also lives in the desert. It made this list, because it’s just too adorable.
But apart from just being super cute like his relative the Common Hedgehog that you might know, he is such a hero. Being a Desert Hedgehog, he had to adapt his eating habits to what is available in the desert; so when he won’t find yummy insects, greens or fruit, he will simply eat up a scorpion.
Talking about tough guys, I want to introduce you to this animal, the Spiny-tailed Agama. There are a few interesting facts about this lizard. As it warms up or cools down, it changes color, to dark grey when it is cold and light yellow and sand colored when it is warm. It can maintain water for long periods of time, defend itself by waving its muscular spiny tail at its predators and is strictly vegetarian, with the exception of the younger ones, who might have an insect or two.
The Jewel Beetle is not just any beetle that might be creeping up on you. It is glamorously pretty with its diamond-like wings and feeds on the nectar of tree flowers exclusively. Doesn’t this beetle fit right into the luxurious and shiny aspects of life that Qatar offers?
The Pharaoh Eagle Owl was actually found nesting on one of the pyramids in Egypt and is therefore called the Pharaoh Eagle Owl. But the royal bird, that will spend its winters in Qatar, is otherwise rather “down to Earth”, as it is nesting on the ground and in cliffs or rocks, has lifelong monogamous relationships, and both parents will feed the babies. And by the way, did you know that a group of owls is called a Parliament?
The Arabian Horned Viper lives in the desert and is active during the night. It camouflages well, so that the only signs of it being around are the sinuous tracks it leaves. What makes this snake so interesting? The Horned Viper’s venom is deadly, and kills a house sparrow within 60- 90 seconds, and well, who has seen a snake with horns before?
The Rueppell’s Fox is actually quite rare in Qatar but is one of the country’s best survivors. The Rueppell’s Fox spends the day in caves and becomes active at night. Everything about it is adapted to life in the desert; its ears that are longer than its head to help it cool off, and it has soft fur on the pads of the paws to protect itself from the heat of the sand but also to get a better grip for walking. The only predators it has in Qatar are Eagles and the Eagle Owl. Another cool fact is that we know the sound it makes; it barks like a dog.
The notorious Honey Badger will attack almost any animal if there is no way of escaping. In Africa it has fought lions and other considerably larger animals, though in the southwest of Qatar it will not have to attack lions. Why is it so brave? The answer lies in its advantage in being completely tireless in a fight. But not only will it fight anything; the Honey Badger will also eat anything. Doesn’t sound very fearless to you? The Honey Badger might favour honey, insects and small animals, but it will eat a snake, including the very poisonous and large ones. It is also very intelligent, as it is one of the few species that is able to use tools. The Honey Badger has used tools, such as wooden sticks and rocks in combat, but also to help him escape.
Lastly, comes my personal favorite, the Dugong. It is the only true vegetarian mammal of the sea. That is also why it was called sea cow, though I prefer the translation of its Tagalog name Dugong, meaning "Lady of the Sea". Old tales say that sailors mistook Dugongs for mermaids and fell in love with them when at sea for weeks and months. Through their healthy lifestyle, the slow swimmers can live to 70 years and even more. Did you know about this magical animal living in the Arabian Gulf?
So there you go; there are far more interesting animals living in this country than you might have thought. Qatar’s animals are just a little more secretive and shy, which can only make their presence more enchanting.
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