Deserts are areas of land where there is almost no rainfall. The land can be rocky or sandy. Most deserts lie in hot zones although some are cold. Also, very hot deserts can be very cold at night. Very little grows in desert lands, although some plants can survive from water beneath the surface.
The animals which live in the desert have learned how to survive. Reptiles, insects, birds and some mammals live in deserts. Camels are mammals which can go for long periods of time without water. Very few people live in deserts. It is difficult to adjust to the hot, dry climate.
Only a fifth of the world's deserts are sand. Sand is made up of very small particles of stone. These particles have worn off rock in time by the wind. The rest of the desert area is stone of some kind, mountains, or various types of dry soil. Stony deserts are called reg. Rocky deserts are called hamada.
Not very many people live in desert areas. Some live at oases. These are spots in the desert that have a supply of water. The water comes from deep wells under the sand. Small towns can grow up around these oases. The residents keep farm animals and grow dates and olives. Nomads are farmers who wander from place to place in the desert. They use camels to travel from one oasis to another. The camels carry all of their possessions.
Animals which live in the desert usually go out at night when it is cooler. During the day they stay in the shade. The smaller ones dig burrows to stay in during the hot part of the day. The kangaroo rat does this as well. Reptiles in the desert can stand more heat than mammals. Their skin is waterproof and it helps them keep their body moisture.
Desert animals can go without water for a long time. Some, like the kangaroo rat, get water from plants. Desert birds travel to oases to find water. They can also get water from seeds or insects. Some animals can go for long periods of time without food. The scorpion is on one of these.
Few plants grow in the dry conditions of a desert. Some get their water from deep in the ground with long roots. Some can store water in leaves or stems. Cactus plants store a large amount of water. Some plants don't grow at all when it is dry. When rain appears, they shoot up from the ground. When the land dries up again, the seeds lie dormant. They may sprout after the next rain or it can be many years before this happens.
Many desert areas are getting bigger. People try to use the land for grazing. They can graze it too often and make the land bare. They chop down the trees and hen rain doesn't come droughts occur. The wind blows the soil away. There is nothing to hold the soil in place. Mining can add to the creation of desert land. Governments in many countries are trying to save the land. They plant trees and they provide food for animals so they won't have to graze. They are teaching farmers new ways of farming to help preserve the soil.
In summary, deserts are regions with little or no rainfall. They can be sandy or rocky. Most deserts lie in hot climate areas, though some can be in cold zones. Nights in hot deserts are may be cold as well. Not many plants can survive in the dryness of the desert. The ones which do often get their water from deep in the ground.