These skates can burrow freely through the sandy ground of the settlements, surfacing to attack and swarm players in groups. They are able to fling bolt-like projectiles from their tails when buried underground.
The Skates seem to be heavily armored on their back, but have a soft and vulnerable underbelly. It is best to attack when they flip up when resurfacing thus exposing their weakness.
Since they are hostile towards all factions, they can alert the whole level even if the enemies have not spotted the player, making stealth runs impossible to achieve. They are not considered as targets in Exterminate missions.
A variant of the Desert Skate appears in the Shifting Sands Tactical Alert. Affected by an unusually large deposit of Cryotic below Phobos, the Skate gains a vivid crimson backside and azure splotches across it's underbelly and face, which resembles Cryotic.Strangely, these variants only seem to surface once a Drilling Extractor has landed, suggesting it may be disturbed by the Extractor itself or attracted to Cryotic as a new food source. Once the Extractor has finished or been destroyed, the Skates eventually disperse and disappear under the sands.
- Desert Skates are immune to Nyx's Chaos, much like Kubrows.
- Desert Skates are not affected by Vauban's Bastille, but are tugged and damaged by Vortex. They can still shoot spikes at you while under Vortex's effects as they are not ragdolled by the ability.
- Desert Skates are not affected by Mag's Pull but are still damaged by it.
- It is never strictly necessary to kill Desert Skates, even in Extermination missions. Because these enemies are fairly difficult to destroy, pose relatively little acute danger, provide little in the way of loot or affinity, and help distract the Grineer, many Tenno simply run past them (or jump over them) without fighting them.
- Desert Skates can block movement even if they're buried, which can result in the Tenno being trapped.
- Desert Skates cannot be affected by Nekros' Shadows of the Dead.
- Desert Skates are the first natural wildlife to be added to the game.
- Physically, Desert Skates closely resemble large stingrays, but with the legs of a scorpion.
- Skates are an actual ocean-dwelling animal related to rays, and by extension, sharks.