IN SANDY deserts, rain may come only in five, six or even 10 years. The day temperature may soar to above 50 degrees centigrade and at the sand surface it may be as high as 90 degrees Celsius, which is hot enough to fry an egg! Deserts appear to be hostile to life of any kinds, yet they support a thriving world of about 5,000 different species. Animals have adapted in different ways in order to survive there. Let us first study how these animals cope with thirst. Super kidney power The red kangaroo of Australia can survive without taking a drink from birth to death! It gets water from the plants it eats and its kidneys - which are five times more effective than human kidneys - concentrate the urine and thus reduce water loss. Parched babies The sandgrouse (found in the arid regions of Africa and Asia) soaks its specially adapted belly feathers in water and then flies as far as 30 kilometres back to its nest where the chicks drink the water from the plumage. Built-in-reservoir The desert tortoise carries its own water supply with it, storing up to 600 millilitres in sacs under its shell. It inhabits the deserts of Mexico and the southwestern United States. Drinking upside down At night, the tenebrionid or darkling beetle of the Namid desert stands with its abdomen pointing upwards and head down to allow dewdrops to condense on its body and trickle down into its mouth. We will talk about how desert animals get around on hot ground and their ways of beating the heat next week.