Snakes, Sand, and Penguins

Bare Basics

Deserts cover about one-fifth of Earth's land surface. In between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn are arid deserts. Cold deserts take up most of the Arctic regions of Earth.

Climate and Rainfall

Cold deserts receive plenty of snow all year and some rain in the spring. It is frigid (-2°C to 4°C) in the winter and warms up slightly in the summer (21°C to 26°C). It isn't hot enough for grass to grow, only small wildflowers. Arid deserts are generally warm during fall and spring (20°C to 25°C) and are extremely hot during the summer (43.5°C to 49°C). It rains in short periods after long periods of little to no rainfall.

Desert Scenery and Life

Plant Life

Plant life in deserts include cacti, flowers, short trees, shrubs, and short grass. They are all made to collect and store water and reduce the amount of water loss. Because of this, they tend to be quite nutritious.


Animals in arid deserts adapt so that they are able to survive in dry and water-less conditions. A great example of an animal able to retain water would be a camel. Deserts also contain snakes and scorpions with scales able to protect themselves from sand. Spiders, vultures, and meerkats also call hot and dry deserts home. In cold deserts, animals need to be protected from the freezing temperature with fur, such as penguins and seals.

Competition and Predator/Prey Relationships

Scorpions and spiders need to compete for a variety of insects. Killer whales and leopard seals compete over penguins. Meerkats are prey to snakes. Lizards are prey to hawks. Squid are prey to penguins and certain fish are prey to penguins.

Interesting Fact

Deserts have a relatively low humidity rate. This is due to the lack of water and the extreme dryness that comes with it.

Ecological Concerns

Humans dig for fossils and oil in deserts, disrupting the natural habitat of wildlife there. Global warming increases the temperature and the dryness in the desert.