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Life in a desert can be tough, but the plants, animals, and people that live there have some special skills to help them survive!
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I love living in a place where I get to enjoy rainy weather, because I love the smell of rain!

And Squeaks likes jumping in puddles! But there are some places where there’s almost never any rain.

They’re called deserts, and they’re the driest places on Earth! In deserts, there’s so little rain that sometimes you have to wait a whole year just for one rain storm! So things that live in the desert, like plants and animals and even people, need special ways to survive when there's so little water.

They also need special ways to deal with the temperature in the desert. Because deserts aren’t just very dry. They can also be very hot or very cold.

Hot deserts are the kinds of deserts you might have heard about before. They’re incredibly hot — like as hot as the middle of the summer, all year! Though they can also get pretty chilly at night.

Hot deserts don’t have a lot of big leafy plants that can help provide shade during the day, or anything to hold in heat at night like a blanket. But not all deserts are hot. There are actually cold deserts, too!

During the summer, cold deserts aren’t too cold, but when it gets to winter, they’re freezing! When you think of the cold, you might think of snow. But it hardly ever snows in cold deserts, even though it's so cold.

There might only be a tiny bit of snow or rain all year. Whether their desert is hot or cold, all of the plants and animals that live in deserts have to be really well prepared to live in such an extreme place. One of the main things that’s hard about life in the desert is that there’s so little water.

So, Squeaks, what do you think plants or animals can do to make sure they have enough water? (Squeaks squeaking) That’s right! Some of them have special ways to hold on to whatever water they can find. Like a cactus!

Cactuses are plants that live in deserts, and they have thick stems where they can store water for a long time. It’s almost like they have a water bottle built into their bodies! So even though it doesn’t rain very much, whenever it does rain, a cactus will soak up lots of water and save it up so it has water until the next time it rains.

But that’s not the only way to get water when it hardly ever rains. Do you know what kind of animal this is, Squeaks? (Squeaks squeaking) You’re almost right! It does look a lot like a bunny rabbit, but this is actually a different kind of animal, called a jackrabbit.

Jackrabbits live in hot deserts in the United States and Mexico, and they mainly get their water from the plants they eat. They also do something kind of funny to make sure they get as much water as they can: they eat their poop! This way they can get any water that might have been left in it.

The other thing that’s really hard about living in a hot desert is that it’s so … hot! That’s why jackrabbits have those huge ears. They’re big so that the jackrabbit can cool off really quickly.

So jackrabbits don’t do much during the day, when it’s the hottest. They sleep instead! They’re mainly active early in the morning and in the evening, when the sun isn’t as high in the sky so it’s a little cooler.

They’re also active at night. But what about animals that can choose to live wherever they want, like humans? Well, people have lived in deserts for an incredibly long time, and we’ve come up with all kinds of ways to survive there.

But some humans live in the desert using some of the same ways as the other animals that live there. People who live in deserts can choose to wear special loose clothes that allow the breeze to cool them off. These clothes work a lot like a jackrabbit’s ears, letting people catch a breeze and cool off quickly!

People also have to avoid the intense heat of the hot desert sun. You could try bringing an air conditioner with you wherever you go, but some people use another way to stay cool. They only go out when the sun is low!

Just like many of the other animals in the desert, some people will wake up early when the sun is just rising, and get things done in the morning. Then during the hottest part of the day, they’ll rest in the shade. Once the sun is setting, the air gets cooler, and everyone can go outside again without getting too hot.

Do you remember which other animal does that, Squeaks? (Squeaks squeaking) That’s right! Jackrabbits are active in the mornings and evenings, too! And there are lots of other desert animals that live this way too, like coyotes, birds, and even porcupines!

Animals that are most active at sunrise and sunset are called crepuscular. And it turns out that being crepuscular is a pretty good lifestyle for people in the desert, too! There are so many ways to live, even in a place as dry as a desert.

No matter how they choose to do it, the people, other animals, and plants that live in deserts have to be pretty tough. Thanks for joining us for this episode of SciShow Kids! If you want to keep learning and having fun with me and Squeaks, be sure to click the red Subscribe button.

Thanks and we’ll see you next time here at the Fort!