horse in desert

Animals don’t HORSE AROUND when it comes to water!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Imagine you’re lost in the desert — you’re parched. But the desert’s teeming with animals! How are they surviving?

Eric Lundgren from the University of Technology in Sydney dug up a theory. He and his team observed the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts in North America for three summers.

They found wild equids — think horses and donkeys — roamed these deserts and dug watering holes up to two meters deep! Locals believe they smell water underground and dig the holes with their hooves.

Water for everyone! These equid-made wells can provide over 70% of the drinking water in the desert. They supply drinks OVER FIFTY species, including bobcats, javelinas, and deer.

Scientists believe that equids and other large animals like elephants protect life in dry environments. They often create the ONLY water source in the area. 

Sure, you can lead a horse to water – but maybe you should let HIM take the lead!

Reference: Lundgren, E. J., Ramp, D., Stromberg, J. C., Wu, J., Nieto, N. C., Sluk, M., Moeller, K. T., & Wallach, A. D. (2021). Equids engineer desert water availability. Science, 372(6541), 491–495. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abd6775