The Grasslands

Picture yourself being able to see from horizon to horizon. The land is
flat, and covered with different kinds of crops and small bunches of trees. You
can see a village near the river. Most houses are made of brick, with some
being wood. Power lines run up and down the street.
Close your eyes and the scene changes to a less familiar place. The land
is flat with some steep hills nearby. In this scene, instead of brick and wood
houses you see houses made out of dung. The ground is dry and barely alive.
Now close your eyes and imagine yet another scene. The sky is almost
the only thing you see with gentle rolling hills all around you. Even rows of
wheat stretch into the distance. You are near a white picket fenced farm with
big cottonwoods shading it from the scorching sun.
You have just visited a collective farm in the Soviet Union, a Masai
village in Africa and Abilene, Kansas, which is located in the U.S. These three
places are part of the world’s mid-latitude grassland region. Grasslands are
usually found in the interior parts of most continents. The world’s grasslands
are vast areas covered with grass and leafy plants. They generally have a dry
climate, little vegetation, and most grasslands receive only about twenty to
thirty inches of rain each year, with most of it coming in the same season.
Some grasslands may even receive up to thirty to forty inches of rain a year!
For example, since the grasslands of the United States have hot summers and mild
winters, most of the rain comes from the summer thunderstorms. With this
limited amount of rain, only grasses and shrubs can grow. But some grassland
areas have enough rain to support some trees such as cottonwood.
With this kind of climate and vegetation, it is no wonder that they have
low human population densities. Because there are not that many people living
in this kind of environment, a person traveling from one part of the grassland
to another is very time consuming as well as difficult.
The wildlife in the grasslands is diversified and plentiful. Since the
grasslands are full of grasses and shrubs, countless animals inhabit the
grasslands to graze on the dense foliage. Some animals also migrate to the
grasslands for temporary lodgings. The resident wildlife in the grasslands must
be adapted to distinct wet and dry seasons, temperature extremes, drying winds
and prolonged droughts. These wildlife usually migrate in search of food and

These animals include: 1. Pronghorn 2. Rabbits 3.
Rodents 4. Coyotes 5. Bobcats 6. Badgers
7. Snakes 8. Lark Bunting 9. Meadowlarks 10. Plovers
11. Hawks 12. Owls 13. Ducks 14. Geese
15. Coots 16. Bison 17. Elk 18. Mountain
Lions 19. Wolves 20. Prairie Dogs

To be able to stay in the grasslands for any period of time, these animals will
have had to go through some adaptations. Here are just a few adaptations some
of these animals have had to go through:

1. Prairie Dogs- Very small, living in burrows, prairie dogs often travel in
large groups, so as to defend one another from the
predators and the threat of invaders entering the

2. Mountain Lions- The mountain lion has learned to hunt at night. It has
learned to climb well, is an excellent jumper, and has
learned the technique of surprising prey by dropping
from tree limbs onto its prey.

3. Bobcats- Learned to live on rodents and rabbits, which thrive in the
grasslands. Are small, so that they can have long periods of
food after only one meal, since meat in the grasslands is met
fierce competition.

4. Pronghorn- Their brownish fur lies flat as an insulator in cold weather and
springs erect to cool the skin in summer. One of the
fastest of
New World mammals, it can run up to 72 km/h (45 mph),
which is essential for evading predators.

5. Rodents- Learn to live in burrows and search for food at night during hot
summers, search for food daytime during mild winters. Learn
stay hidden in shrubs, in fear of air predators.

6. Plovers- These birds have stout bodies with a short neck and tail. Bills in
most species are short and stout and are swollen at the tip.
Many species also have bands or rings around
the neck. Plovers are swift in flight and forage actively on
the ground or in shallow water for insects.

And while there are many species of animals in the grasslands, there is
even a greater abundance of, of course, grasses. Here are just a