What types of animals can you see in Western Sahara?
Western Sahara is home to some of the most incredible wildlife on the planet. The amount of diversity is truly incredible. 🙂
But because of the sheer number of different species, there was no way I could include every animal living in Western Sahara.
So, here is what I did to make this list more manageable:
The article below focuses mostly on the most common and unique MAMMALS found in Western Sahara.
If you were hoping to learn about something else, like reptiles, birds, or spiders, I have created separate ID guides for these categories of animals.
Please click the links below to view pages dedicated to these species in Western Sahara:
5 Incredible ANIMALS IN Western Sahara:
#1. Honey Badger
- Mellivora capensis
- Adults are 55–77 cm (22–30 in) long.
- They have stocky bodies, large heads, small eyes, strong, wide forefeet, small hind feet with short claws, muscular necks and shoulders, and thick, loose skin.
- Their color varies with subspecies, but generally, their lower half is black, and they have an upper mantle of gray or bright white.
Honey Badgers are one of the toughest animals in Western Sahara!
They have a reputation for living anywhere, eating anything, and surviving no matter what.
Their diet is as varied as their habitat. Honey Badgers are opportunistic foragers whose menu changes with the season and prey availability. They frequently prey on snakes, birds, eggs, frogs, and small rodents. As their name suggests, they’re also known for raiding honey bee hives to eat the larvae and honey inside.
Honey Badgers are known for their aggressive nature. Males will ferociously defend their territory and mate from other males. Naturalists sometimes refer to older adult males as “scarbacks” because they usually have a noticeable patch of scars on their backs from conflicts.
The video below is one of my favorites and shows how TOUGH Honey Badgers are! Seriously, you have to watch until the end.
#2. African Wildcat
- Felis lybica
- Coloration varies and may be tawny brown, sandy yellow, reddish, or gray with faint tabby spots and stripes, banded legs, and reddish or rusty-brown on the backs of their ears.
- They have long legs, small ear tufts, and long, thin tails with rings near the end and black tips.
You are looking at the ancestor of the domestic cat!
African Wildcats are skillful hunters with incredible hearing. Once they’ve located prey, they slowly and sneakily approach it and pounce once they’re in range. They usually feed on mice, rats, and other small mammals.
African Wildcats are most active at night. During the day, they tend to avoid the heat and rest under bushes or other shelter, although sometimes they can be observed out hunting on cloudy, overcast days. Additionally, when threatened, these cats raise their hair to make themselves seem larger and intimidate their opponents, similar to what we see in domestic cats.
However, they have some distinctly wild traits. For example, when they sit upright, their long front legs raise their bodies almost vertically (more so than domestic cats). This posture can be seen on Egyptian bronze mummy cases and tomb paintings. They also have high shoulder blades that give them a distinctive cheetah-like gait.
#3. African Wolf
- Canis lupaster
- Relatively long pointed snouts and ears, comparatively short tails, and robust teeth.
- They’re yellowish to silvery gray with reddish legs, black speckling on their tails and shoulders, and some white markings on their faces, throats, and abdomens.
Look for this canine during the day in Western Sahara in grassland areas.
African Wolves have an extensive range, and their appearance and size vary with location. They usually center their territory around a den, often made from a modified aardvark or warthog den, where the female will have her pups.
African Wolves have flexible social structures that are largely dictated by prey availability. Each pack consists of a monogamous breeding pair that remains together constantly. It also includes current offspring and previous generations that help to raise their siblings.
These wolves can be formidable predators in Western Sahara, sometimes taking prey up to three times their weight. However, they usually go after much smaller animals.
Pairs of wolves often hunt gazelle fawns and other small mammals like cane rats and ground squirrels. They also consume fruit, snakes, and insects. Interestingly, during the wildebeest calving season, African Wolves feed almost exclusively on wildebeest afterbirth.
#4. Rüppell’s Fox
- Vulpes rueppellii
- They have slender bodies and long, bushy tails with white tips.
- Coloration is buff or sandy colored with white hairs in their dense undercoat and gray markings on their faces, but there are some gray morphs in rocky areas.
Rüppell’s Foxes are one of the most resourceful animals in Western Sahara.
Because Red Foxes often get the best territory, these smaller foxes have become highly adapted to inhospitably dry deserts. While they’re primarily insectivores, they’ll consume anything they can grab and eat, including small mammals and roots.
Their fur closely matches the substrate where they’re located, camouflaging them from predators such as Steppe Eagles and Eagle Owls. Rüppell’s Foxes also have a fascinating, skunk-like defense mechanism. When threatened, they will hump their back, raise their tail, and spray their attacker with a foul secretion from their anal gland.
Living in such harsh conditions, Rüppell’s Foxes have gained a reputation as incredibly tough survivalists. There’s even a legend that these foxes can drink water from the wind by keeping their head in a breeze. That’s quite a reputation for such a tiny animal!
#5. Fennec Fox
- Vulpes zerda
- They have massive, conical ears.
- Their coloration is buff on their upper bodies and white on their legs, faces, ear-linings, and undersides.
Fennec Foxes are the smallest wild dog in Western Sahara!
They’re even smaller than most house cats, but don’t let their size fool you. Also called the Desert Fox, Fennec Foxes are tough animals that live almost exclusively in sandy, arid regions.
Their massive ears help Fennec Foxes locate food, even when it’s underground. They catch most of their prey by digging it out of the earth.
These omnivores live in a harsh environment and feed on anything they can get, including rodents, birds, eggs, lizards, insects, fruits, leaves, and roots. Plant materials are vital as they comprise 100% of the Fennec Fox’s hydration. Unlike most mammals, these foxes can live indefinitely without a water source.
Fennec Foxes are highly social animals that often live together in clans. Together, these clans hold territories and dig burrows, which are used to raise pups and shelter from the hot desert sun.
Do you want to learn about MORE animals in Western Sahara?
Check out these ID Guides. Each one is specific to wildlife in Western Sahara!
Which of these animals in Western Sahara is your favorite?
Leave a comment below! I’d especially like to know if you have visited Western Sahara before and what you saw.