Grade 3

Weekly Reader Article

Discover the Desert

desert tortoise graphic

Desert Tortoise

National Image Library

Desert Tortoise

Desert tortoises stay cool in burrows, or holes in the ground. When a tortoise is in danger, it pulls its head and legs into its shell. Its shell helps camouflage, or disguise, the tortoise because its shell looks like a rock.


The cactus is a type of plant that can survive in the desert. A cactus has long, deep roots. Its roots collect water. The cactus holds the water in its thick stem. Its waxy skin helps hold the water. Most cactuses have spines on their skin. The spines help protect the plant from being eaten by animals.


The desert tarantula (tah-RAN-choo-lah) is a spider that survives in the desert by sleeping during the day. Once the desert is cooler, the tarantula wakes up. The tarantula lives in a hole. It walks around the desert looking for food. But it rarely wanders far from its home. A tarantula has eight legs and usually walks slowly. When a tarantula spots food, it then moves quickly to catch its prey.