Desert

Climate

Animals

Plants

Health Concerns

The desert is dry, barren, hot, and silent. Not a drop of water for months. If the desert is so hostile, then how can living things survive? First; we will look into the desert climate.

Climate

There are two main types of desert in the world-the hot desert and the semi-desert. The hot desert is usually near the equator. A hot desert is usually the sandy-Egyptian type of desert. The semi-desert looks like a scrubland. The semi-desert is the one you usually see on westerns.

Deserts are formed when something gets in the way of rain clouds. This can be caused by winds or mountains. Some deserts are near oceans. The Mediterranean Sea is near the Sahara desert. California is another good example of a desert by the sea. Deserts by bodies of water are usually caused by winds.

Mountains also play a roll in forming deserts. A rain soaked wind could be strolling along, planning a day in the desert, when WHAM! a big old mountain jumps in front them. Then the angry cloud might say, "Where the heck did that mouintain come from?" Being really mad, the cloud will drop all of his rain in order to get over the mountain, where he can raise a big windstorm in the desert. A good place to find plenty of mountains jumping up in front of innocent clouds is by the Himalayas. A cloud trying to visit his relatives in Mongolia might run into the Himalayas. Being a very angry cloud, he would drop all of his rain right on India, leaving everything behind the Himalayas, like the Gobi desert dry.

Animals

When most people think of the desert, they think of camels, snakes and lizards as being the only animals that live in the desert. Really, there are many more animals living in the desert. There are coyotes, foxes, peccaries, tarantulas, scorpions, ring tailed cats, antelope, skunks, mule deer, boars, and in some places, lions and elephants. There is an abundance of small animals that support the deserts population of hawks, falcons, owls, roadrunners, buzzards, and eagles. Wood peckers make their homes in the large cactuses.

Here in the Oregon desert, you can find bobcats and chipmunks and woodchucks among the sycamores. Most of the animals that live in the deserts have adapted to the desert life very well. All desert dwellers have adapted to conserve water, food and energy. The camel is an example. The camel is one of the best survivors in the desert. The camel stores fat in its hump. Camels have long legs to keep the sands heat away and long hair to keep the cold desert nights warmer. Some animals have special eyelids that they can see through to keep the sand out during a sand storm. No matter what the animal, each one has a special adaptation.

Plants

Plant life in the desert is scarce, but there are more plants living here than you would expect. For example two of the most popular desert plants are the ocotillo which is a leafy green plant that produces flowers. The other one is the saguaro cactus which was named Arizona's state flower.

Plants in the desert are forced to make many adaptions in order to survive in this dry, hot land. Some adaptions are when rain falls they sprout at that moment, bloom quickly, ripen their seed in a few days, then whither and die. Other plants depend on underground water. Most plants have developed roots that grow up to 80 ft. long. The Cactus also survives because it has a thick waxy layer on the outside of its stems and leaves. This helps to retain water and protect tissues from intense sunlight. Other plants store water in their fleshy stems or leaves and are called succulents.

The Desert plants are of great importance to the animals of the desert. They find most of their food and water from plants. Dew left on plants, and salt which helps the plant take in water, are vital sources of life. The whisker cactus provides food for insects. Goats also feed on a small cactus called the "Living Rock." It grows among rocks to camouflage itself as to avoid being eaten by hungry animals.

Health concerns

There are many health concerns in the desert. A person who is traveling through the desert can suffer through many hardships, such as sunburns, sand storms, dehydration, snake bites and much more. If you ever travel to the desert, you should bring a ton of water with you. Water can mean the difference between life and death. Sunstoke can be prevented by drinking plenty of water. If you are ever stuck in the desert without water, some cactuses, like the barrel or compass (a cactus that always leans to the south west) have water inside of them. Don't ever drink alcoholic beverages in the desert. It too can cause water loss. If you ever find someone who is suffering from dehydration, take them to the nearest shade, give them water, tend to their needs, and get help as soon as possible.

Snake bites are another concern in the desert. If walking or camping in the desert, have a snake bite kit with you. Keep an eye out for snakes and steer clear of them. If you or anybody gets bit by a snake, keep yourself and the victim calm. Do not allow the victim to move around because it will cause the heart to beat faster, thus spreading the poison further. Get help as soon as possible.

Sunburn in the desert is prevented by putting on sunscreen. If you do not have sunscreen, use mud, or put on covering clothes. If you have a sunburn, look around for the aloevera plant. Rub the stuff on your burn to give relief to the burn.

Biome Index

Designed by Sharryl Lattion and Melissa Femrite