The Desert Tortoise
is native to
California. It lives in
(valleys formed by
by flowing water)
appropriate habitat. It can survive in places where summer
daytime temperatures can reach 140 degrees F (60 degrees C) by
retiring to burrows that it digs for itself. It is estimated that desert
tortoises spend approximately 90-95% of their lives in burrows.
The underground tunnels they create also serve as homes for other
creatures including rodents, snakes, lizards, toads, insects, spiders
and others. They feed primarily on grasses, annuals, fresh cactus
growth and fruit. The can store a third of their body weight in water
in a specially enlarged urinary bladder allowing them to cope with
extended periods of drought.
Desert tortoises have been known to live between 80 – 100 years.
Their population is threatened due in part to unsustainable
collection by humans, proliferation of predators (especially the
Common Raven), destruction of habitat by off-road vehicle use and
the spread of invasive plant species. The population is further
threatened by respiratory illness that is the result of infected,
formerly captive tortoises being released back into the wild.
It is illegal to collect, kill, harass, touch or in any way disturb wild
desert tortoises, and a Fish and Wildlife permit is needed to keep
one in captivity.
Our desert tortoise is 20 years old and was donated to us by a city