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Basic Facts About Desert Tortoises


Animals  (tags: AnimalWelfare, environment, endangered, conservation, animals, wildlife, wildanimals, protection, habitat, investigation, extinction, ethics )

JL
- 712 days ago - defenders.org
The desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) is a large herbivore and the official reptile in the states of California and Nevada. No other tortoise in North America shares the extreme conditions of habitats occupied by the desert tortoise.



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JL A. (276)
Sunday January 13, 2013, 4:00 pm
Basic Facts About Desert Tortoises
The desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) is a large herbivore and the official reptile in the states of California and Nevada. No other tortoise in North America shares the extreme conditions of habitats occupied by the desert tortoise.

Desert Tortoise, © Jonathan S. Blair / National Geographic Stock
© Jonathan S. Blair / National Geographic Stock
Diet

Did You Know?

With their burrows, desert tortoises create a subterranean environment that can be beneficial to other reptiles, mammals, birds and invertebrates.

Varies throughout the desert tortoise's range. A desert tortoise's diet may include herbs, grasses, some shrubs and the new growth of cacti and their flowers.
Population

The number of desert tortoises has decreased by 90% since the 1950’s. Recent estimates indicate that there are about 100,000 individual desert tortoises existing in the Mojave and Sonoran deserts.As late as the 1950’s the desert tortoise population averaged at least 200 adults per square mile. More recent studies show the level is now between 5-60 adults per square mile.
Range

The desert tortoise can be found in the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts of southern California, Nevada and Utah. They inhabit semi-arid grasslands, desert washes and sandy canyon bottoms below 3,500 ft.
Behavior

The desert tortoise is able to live where ground temperatures may exceed 140 degrees F because of its ability to dig underground burrows to escape the heat. It is one of the most elusive inhabitants of the desert, spending up to 95% of its time under ground to escape the heat of the summer and the cold of winter. They live in burrows which they dig. These can be 3-6 feet deep. They will spend November through February in a torpid or dormant state in their underground burrows.


Did You Know?

Adult desert tortoises can survive a year or more without access to water!

Their most active time is in the spring when they will forage for food. During the hottest, driest periods of the year the tortoise conserves water already stored in its body. This is especially important in the hot, dry Mojave Desert summers. Winter hibernation aids in minimizing water loss.

Much of the tortoise’s water intake comes from moisture in the grasses and wildflowers they consume in the spring. To maximize the utilization of infrequent rainfall, tortoises dig catchment basins in the soil, remember where these are, and may be found waiting by them when rain appears imminent. Water that reaches the bladder is not lost to the system but can be drawn upon as needed. Adult tortoises may survive a year or more without access to water.

Reproduction

Mating Season: Late summer to early fall.
Gestation: 10-12 months.
Clutch size: 4-6 eggs.
Females do not breed until they are 15 to 20 years old. Survival of juveniles is low: only 2-3 per 100 hatched may live to become adults.


[MORE FACTS AVAILABLE AT THE SITE]
 

Terry V. (30)
Sunday January 13, 2013, 4:24 pm
Desert Tortoise
 

JL A. (276)
Sunday January 13, 2013, 4:26 pm
Thanks for adding the link to the wonderful video Terry! You cannot currently send a star to Terry because you have done so within the last week.
 

Jim Phillips (3202)
Sunday January 13, 2013, 7:11 pm
The desert turtles are an interesting specie. Their numbers have been dwindling over the years.
One fact was that they can go a whole year without water. Awesome.

This is an excellent organization. Join. It's free. Signed a few petitions while I was in it. There were a few I had already signed.

LINK: www.defenders.org

Ty, JL.
.
 

JL A. (276)
Sunday January 13, 2013, 7:22 pm
You are welcome Jim. They are a great organization. You cannot currently send a star to Jim because you have done so within the last week.
 

Giana Peranio-Paz (395)
Sunday January 13, 2013, 11:37 pm
It would be terrible to lose them for ecological reasons and also because they are so wonderful. In Israel, before building and construction took over, I used to see them around my house, but now, they have almost completely disappeared and I can see them only in our small zoo. Why are they disappearing from California and Navada? and so suddenly? Hope they find the answer soon, and lovely video Terry. thanks.
 

Danuta Watola (1217)
Monday January 14, 2013, 4:59 am
noted
 

Michele Wilkinson (106)
Monday January 14, 2013, 8:31 am
Thank you.
Tortoises are fascinating creatures.
 

JL A. (276)
Monday January 14, 2013, 8:51 am
You cannot currently send a star to Giana because you have done so within the last week.
I agree Michele and you are welcome.
 

Kate A. (10)
Monday January 14, 2013, 8:52 am
S/N, thank u for posting
 

Kit B. (276)
Monday January 14, 2013, 10:35 am

Human population growth, construction sites, automobiles and trucks, many, many roads, inhospitable surrounding habitats are a few of the reasons, for this and many other species are disappearing.
 

JL A. (276)
Monday January 14, 2013, 10:38 am
Too true Kit. You cannot currently send a star to Kit because you have done so within the last week.
 
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