Grassland biomes are areas of flat land characterized by grassy vegetation, few if any trees and negligible annual precipitation. Most grassland habitats occur in the Northern Hemisphere and experience hot summers and cold winters. Grassland biomes around the world host diverse communities of animal wildlife, most of which are entirely unique to their geographical regions.
The Northern short grassland biome stretches across the Northwestern United States and into parts of Canada. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), "prior to 1850, the Northern short grasslands contained some of the last extensive habitat for bison in the U.S. and Canada." Bison still occur in diminished numbers. Other grazing animals include pronghorn antelope and deer. Rodents include prairie dogs and pocket gophers (Defenders of Wildlife). Carnivores include endangered black-footed ferrets as well as bobcats, cougars, wolves and foxes. The Northern short grassland biome hosts one of the largest populations of endangered piping plovers in North America. Other prairie birds include several threatened hawk and sparrow species, golden eagles, burrowing owls and grouse.
Pampas are South American grassland biomes. A biologically diverse semi-arid pampas grassland biome occurs in Central Argentina. According to the WWF, the most important herbivore in the region is the endangered pampas deer. Rodents of the Argentine pampas include the opossum, skunks (called "zorrino común") and hares. Carnivores include pumas and pampa foxes. Bird fauna includes large, ostrich-like ñandú, and the partridge-like perdiz chica. Farmers also commonly graze cattle on the Argentine pampas.
Eastern Europe hosts several grassland biomes known as "puszta." Hungary's Hortobágy lowland puszta supports abundant grassland animal wildlife. According to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), "Hortobágy provides a resting place for vast numbers of migrant birds, including various species of heron, spoonbills, white geese, reed-warblers, waders, rare black storks, falcons, [cranes] and eagles." During migration season, crane flocks of more than 50,000 have been reported. Puszta grazers include Hungarian longhorn cattle, Hungarian sheep and long-haired komondor and puli shepherd dogs, all three of which have been domesticated through hundreds of years of breeding. Other puszta species include Nonius horses and wild boar.
Kazakhstan hosts a vast dry grassland biome known as a "steppe." According to the WWF, the Kazak steppe supports an especially large population of burrowing rodents, including hamsters, mice, giant mole-rats, lemmings, marmots, hares, voles and ground squirrels. Carnivorous Kazak steppe species include foxes, wolves and the ferret-like Siberian polecat. Steppe herbivores include bison and saiga antelope. Several eagle and falcon species thrive on the Kazak steppe. Other common bird inhabitants include osprey, cranes and ground-dwelling bustards.
South Africa's grassland biomes (referred to as "veldts") occur mainly in the high central plateau region and form part of the KwaZuluNatal Wildlife Park. Dominant veldt herbivores include zebra and gazelles. Rodents living in the veldt include elephant shrews and meerkats. The South African veldt supports numerous carnivores such as lions, cheetah, wild dogs, hyena, jackal, foxes and mongoose. Birds include African hoopoe, bearded vultures, the secretary bird, several weaver species and Dikkop birds.