What desert animals eat cactus?

In this brief article we will answer the question “what desert animal eats cactus?”. We will also discuss which cactus are edible.

What desert animals eat cactus?

Desert animals that eat cactus are:

  • Camels
  • Jackrabbit
  • Prairie dogs
  • Ground squirrels
  • Various species of javelinas and collared peccaries
  • Rodents ( woodrat, kangaroo rat, chipmunks, gophers, mice, packrats)
  • Birds (Gila woodpecker, gilded flicker birds)
  • Bats
  • Iguana
  • Eastern CottonTail
  • Harris’s antelope squirrels
  • Coyotes

How do camels eat cacti?

Camel populations boom in deserts and semi-deserts because the animals have adjusted to eat the succulent cactus that grow there. Their unique physical characteristics are what allow them to do this.

They have a hard palate in the roof of their mouths, which they use to gnaw and crush the cactus with their teeth. Their tough, leathery lips cushion the blow of the sharp spikes they eat. The ability to rotate their jaws while chewing is also useful. It facilitates the insertion of cactus needles in a vertical orientation through the vocal cords.

The jumping cholla, like the prickly pear cactus, is a favorite of camels despite its many spines and sharp barbs It is clear that the camels experience some pain when eating cactus, but they persist in order to gain the benefits of the plant’s succulent green parts.

How do jackrabbits eat cactus?

A mammal native to the desert, the Jackrabbit feeds exclusively on cactus. Despite its common name, this animal is actually a relative of the hare. Its long ears help it detect danger from far away in the desert, which is one of its adaptive features. In the scorching desert, the long ears act as a natural cooling system.

Jackrabbits are solitary animals that forage for food in open areas. Cactuses and other desert plants, such as fruits and grass, make up the bulk of their diet. Their diet consists primarily of the cacti’s flesh, as they steer clear of the prickly parts.

Why do prairie dogs eat cactus?

The prairie dog is a rodent that eats vegetation and burrows underground. In the event that they are unable to find anything edible in their burrows, they will consume the flowers and fruit of cacti instead.

What method do javelinas use to consume cactus?

The Prickly Pear Cactus is a favorite food of javelinas (Collared Peccary). Their build is remarkably similar to that of pigs when compared to a spear. Still, their bodies are noticeably smaller, and their tails are so short as to be hardly perceptible.

As a result of their unique physiology, javelinas have no trouble tracking down cacti in the desert. They use the tusks that grow out from under their snouts to dig up plant roots when they’re hungry.

Can you eat any kind of cactus?

There are some poisonous cactus milk varieties, but in general, cacti are edible and even nutritional. Almost every cactus fruit is edible. The only real distinction between them is one of preference. The flavors range from sweet to bitter. The rest of it is disposable as well. Here are some of the most popular cacti for consumption.

What can you do to prevent animals from eating your cactus?

Cacti frequently fall victim to grazing animals. Rats, mice, gophers, and even ground squirrels will eat your cactus if they get the chance. Here are some strategies to prevent these pests from damaging your cactus.

  • Surround your cactus with a wire fence. To stop rodents from tunneling under the fence, it should be buried at least 4 to 6 inches into the ground.
  • If the rodents tend to come out at night, you can protect your cacti by placing them in a bucket, trash can, or empty nursery container.
  • In terms of domesticated animals, cats and some breeds of dogs, like Jack Russell Terriers, can be very useful in the fight against rodents.
  • Make use of mint, as the scent of mint is unpleasant to rodents and will keep them away from your cactus. Plant some mint in a pot next to your cactus if you’re worried it might be too aggressive.
  • You can purchase predator urine to use as a repellent around your cactus to keep out foxes, coyotes, and wolves. Other natural repellents include hot pepper, onion, and garlic sprays.


In this brief article we have  answered the question “what desert animal eats cactus?”. We have also discussed which cacti are edible.


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