Desert Animals

To learn about desert animals start by talking about some of the features of a desert.  Make a list together of things and conditions you might find in the desert.  Older kids should come having read a book or two on deserts first.  You can also read aloud a book or a few pages of a book on deserts to younger kids.

Desert Map

Next look at a map of where the major deserts of the world are found or color your own map.

This map shows all the deserts of the world, except Antarctica, which is the largest desert. Image by Vzb83 from fi, CC license, Wikimedia.


Desert Animals Craft

Now talk about two desert animals in particular.  We picked two animals from the Sonoran Desert in America, the Arizona coral snake and the kangaroo rat.  Make a paper chain snake.  On each of the yellow and red sections of the snake’s body write a fact about the Sonoran desert or deserts in general. When you put the snake chain together be careful to get the pattern correct.  There are copycat snakes that look similar but have a different pattern.  Add a forked tongue and draw on eyes with a white crayon.  Then make a little paper chain Kangaroo rat from two shorter strips of paper (half the length, but the same width as the snake papers). Add ears, a tail and draw on eyes and a nose.

Learn about desert animals and make a predator and prey paper chain craft of the coral snake and kangaroo rat.

Coral Snake

  • It has a black head and then stripes in this order: yellow, black, yellow, red, yellow, black, yellow, red, yellow, black . . . etc.  The black and red stripes never touch on the true coral snake.
  • It is the most venomous snake in the Sonoran desert.
  • The coral snake is shy and hard to find so it rarely bites people.
  • It comes out only at night to hunt in the cool.
  • Its favorite prey is the blind snake.
This is an eastern coral snake. Photo by John, CC license, Wikimedia.

Kangaroo Rat

  • It never needs to drink water.  All its moisture comes from the food it eats.
  • Seeds are its only diet.
  • With powerful hind legs, it jumps just like a kangaroo.
  • It is most active at night.
  • It has to watch out for owls, lizards, snakes, coyotes, and small cats like the bobcat.
There are several sub-species of kangaroo rat. This one is from California and is endangered. Photo by US Fish and Wildlife Service, CC license, Wikimedia.

 Additional Layers

  • We chose the snake and rat on purpose because they are predator and prey.  You can use them to talk about food chains.
  • Talk about patterns with younger kids when you put together the snake.
  • Memorize the major deserts and their locations. Write a paragraph or report about one of them.
  • Learn about some of the native people who live in the Sonoran Desert, like the Hopi or the Navajo.
  • Talk about the concepts of ecosystem and biome.

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