Adaptations for deserts



  • In an animal’s body a number of complex biological processes are carried out.
  • These processes can take place within a narrow range of temperature.
  • If the range is exceeded, the organism dies.
  • Desert animals have adapted themselves to live in their habitat.
  • The camel has several adaptations to survive in the desert.
  • Camel's long eyelashes and ear’s hair protect the eyes and ears from sand.
  • Fat stored in its hump acts as a food reserve.
  • Its long legs keep it further from hot sand.
  • Broad feet help in walking on sand without sinking in it.

  • It can drink a huge quantity of water at a time and can stay without water for a long time.
  • Its body loses very little water in the form of urine.
  • It can keep its nostrils closed to keep out sand.
  • It doesn't drink water.
  • It gets all the water it needs from its food (mostly seeds).
  • The oxygen that it breathes in combines with food to produce water inside the body.
  • Many desert animals and insects stay in deep underground burrows during the day to survive in hot conditions. e.g., the kangaroo rat.



  • Plants need to conserve moisture and energy in the dry desert.
  • Many plants slow down growth for half of the year to conserve moisture.
  • Plants also adapt to survive in the hot and dry climate of the deserts.
  • Most plants have long roots that go deep into the soil in search of water.
  • A cactus has the following modifications.
  • The leaves are modified as spines to minimize water loss.

Cactus has spines to prevent loss of water

  • The stem is green, to make food for the plant.
  • The stem is swollen and fleshy to store water.
  • Cactus has a thick, waxy coating that prevents water loss and helps it to retain water.

Stem of cactus plant


Ocotillo plant