The Living Edens
a picture of a gecko lizard at night in the Namib
Winds die as darkness falls on the Namib, and the animals of the day -- among them the cold-blooded, sun-dependent reptiles -- enter into slumber. But as the moon rises, it illuminates an unearthly world, a realm of strange creatures specially adapted to the chill desert night.

Sun spider, scorpion, gecko and golden mole materialize out of their diurnal hiding places to feed. They work franticly to feed themselves before sunrise, when like ghosts, they disappear into the Namib sands.

a picture of a scorpionScorpion
Vampires of the dunes, scorpions feed on other arachnids and beetles, drinking blood drops from their prey's bodies. Scorpions have hair on their feet for burrowing, and long straight claws to seize and crush prey. Most active at night, scorpions capture and eat spiders and insects. Owls, rodents and jackals are their main predators.

a picture of a sun spiderSun Spider
A type of arachnid, the sun spider has the largest jaws in the animal kingdom. A recently discovered intertidal, poisonous species of the sun spider burrows just above the high tide. Hunting in seaweed and in grainy debris along the shore, they prey on isopods and arthropods.

a picture of a golden moleGolden Mole
Believed to be extinct until recently, when a skull was found in owl pellets, this small, rare mammal spends the day burrowed under up to two feet of sand. In the evening, the mole rises to the surface to prey on termites, insect larvae, other invertebrates and legless lizards. The mole travels between surface patches, also feeding on plant bulbs and seeds. Blind and earless, the golden mole relies on its keen senses of smell and movement, always feeling for the tiny sand vibrations that indicate prey is afoot.

Similar in appearance to a small hamster, the golden mole is approximately the size of a man's thumb. Golden moles live nomadic lives, swimming in the sands and foregoing permanent burrows. Relying on the sand for warmth during the day, the mole enters a state akin to hibernation until the next night.

a picture of a surprised gecko Gecko
Almost transparent, the palmato gecko emerges at night to hunt. Their delicately webbed feet are especially suited for digging burrows in semi-compacted sand. Geckos feed on insects and lick moisture off their bodies as it condenses from the fog.

Named for the loud call they make, barking geckos attract females and scare off males with their resounding clamor.

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