Hey, kids! Did you know Abu Dhabi is teeming with wildlife? Take a walk on the wild side and find out some of the furry, friendly and flying creatures that live here
Dugongs are large grey mammals that live in the sea near Abu Dhabi. Known as ‘sea cows’, dugongs have a flat, wide tail and flippers like a whale, although they are actually more closely related to an elephant.
An adult dugong can grow as big as 3 metres long and reach a weight of 907 kg – that’s half the weight of a car! Dugongs can be very shy and are herbivores, non-meat-eating animals, so their main food source is sea grass, which they happily hoover up from the bottom of the ocean. They’re very shy though, so you’d be very lucky to see one.
Did you know: The Arabian Gulf is home to the second largest population of dugongs in
the world, after Australia.
The Arabian camel, also known as dromedary, is a large mammal commonly found in the UAE and other areas throughout the Middle East. The even-toed animal has a long narrow neck, a narrow chest, a single hump on its back and can grow to 2m in height and 600kg in weight in adulthood.
As a herbivore, feeding only on plants, the Arabian camel eats grass, grains, seeds, twigs and even plants with thorns. Camels store fat in their humps, not water as many people believe, allowing them to go without food and water for several weeks.
Did you know: Camels can drink up to 40 gallons of water at one time – that’s about how much water you use at bath time!
Hawksbill turtles are a type of saltwater reptile that live in mangroves, rocky areas and shallow coastal zones like Abu Dhabi. Hawksbills get their name from their narrow head and sharp, bird-like beak, similar to a hawk.
An adult Hawksbill can grow to around 75 to 90 cm in length and weigh 45 to 90 kg – that’s about ten times heavier than a sausage dog! Hawksbills have a specialised diet and feed almost exclusively on sponges that can be found in reefs like we have off the coast of Abu Dhabi.
Did you know: Hawksbill turtles can hold their breath underwater for between four and seven hours!
The Arabian oryx is a medium-sized antelope perfectly suited for living in the desert. The oryx has two long spiky horns that can reach between up to 1.5m in length – that’s almost as long as a human is tall! It also has a long neck similar to a horse’s, and a muscular body with distinct black outlines on its white face.
The oryx is a herbivore, meaning it only eats plants, and feeds on grass, roots and shrubs. As one of the rarest animals in the world, there are as few as 1,000 Arabian oryx left in the wild but valuable work is being done right here in Abu Dhabi to help protect this species for the future.
Did you know: The Arabian oryx can go weeks without water and is known to walk uo to 70km each night.
Often seen on currency here in the UAE, the Peregrine falcon is a bird of prey and national symbol of the country. An expert hunter, it features large wings that can reach 1.2 metres in length, a sharp beak, large talons (claws) and eyes that can detect prey from as far as 1.6km away.
Carnivorous birds, they eat meat, hunting and feeding mostly on small mammals like mice and even other birds. Peregrine falcons do not build nests; instead they take turns sitting on eggs until they hatch.
Did you know: A Peregrine falcon can swoop at a speed of 389kph, making it the fastest animal on earth.