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Desert Tortoise. Gopherus agassizii. Turtle or Tortoise?. A tortoise dwells on the land with a high-domed shell. ~Elephant-shaped legs, and goes in the water only to drink or bathe. A turtle lives in the water (aka pond turtles, sea turtles,musk turtles etc..). Basic Information.

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desert tortoise

Desert Tortoise

Gopherus agassizii

turtle or tortoise
Turtle or Tortoise?
  • A tortoise dwells on the land with a high-domed shell.

~Elephant-shaped legs, and goes in the water only to drink or bathe.

  • A turtle lives in the water (aka pond turtles, sea turtles,musk turtles etc..)
basic information
Basic Information
  • 8-15 lbs at sexual maturity
  • 4-6” in height
  • Lifespan is 80-100 years.
  • One of three land dwelling turtles of the family Testudinidae
  • Often mispronounced “dessert” tortoise, which is it’s delicious relative.

()

tortoise love
Tortoise Love
  • Mating season is generally from August  October, but mating can occur all year round.
      • Male testosterone levels peak at this time.
  • Females produce 4-8 white, hard-shelled eggs per clutch.
      • 2-3 clutches per season.
  • The temperature affects the gender of the tortoise
  • Sexual maturity is not reached until 15-20 years (when the carapace is 7-8 inches)
delicious treats enjoyed by tortoises
Delicious Treats Enjoyed by Tortoises
  • Tortoises are herbivores
  • Tortoises prefer native species of plants to invader species
  • Also prefer perennials to annuals.
  • Tortoises favor plant legumes to all above species of plants
habitat of desert tortoises
Habitat of Desert Tortoises

*Desert tortoises are adapted to live in deserts:

- Mojave Desert

- Sonoran Deserts

- southern Nevada,

- south through Arizona into Mexico.

* Prefer rocky habitats (near alluvial fans, and around shrubs)

endangered and precious
Endangered and Precious
  • State animal of Nevada and California
  • On the endangered species list
  • Population of desert tortoises has declined over 90% since the 1980s.
  • Threats to the tortoises include:
      • Urbanization/habitat loss
      • illegal collection (by humans)
      • upper respiratory tract disease
      • competition with cattle for food sources.
  • It is unlawful to touch, harm, harass or collect desert tortoises.
tortoise anatomy
Tortoise Anatomy
  • The upper shell is known as the carapace.
  • Tough and scaly skin protects against water loss.
  • The forelimbs are armored, muscular and used for burrowing (to make homes).
  • The gular horn is used to overturn other males when fighting.
adaptations to desert life
Adaptations to Desert Life
  • Cold – blooded (internal temperature varies with outdoor temperature).
  • Dig depressions with forelimbs to catch rain
  • Large range in food that they eat.
  • Most of the tortoise’s water intake comes from moisture in the vegetation they consume in the spring.
upper respiratory tract disease
Upper Respiratory Tract Disease
  • Originated in captive tortoise populations.
  • In 1988, wild tortoises in California were seen with puffy, recessed eyes, and a dull colored shell.
  • More than 70% of adult males tortoises died from disease between 1988 and 1992.
curious facts
Curious Facts!!!
  • 95% of the desert tortoises life is spent in underground burrows.
  • May survive a year or more without access to water.
  • Store water in a specialized urinary bladder so in times of drought water is available.
for the protection of the tortoises
For the Protection of the Tortoises:
  • Do not handle tortoises.
  • Check under your vehicle before driving.
  • Observe speed limits.
  • Do not drive off-roading vehicles around wildlife preserves.
references
References
  • http://www.desertusa.com/june96/du_tort.html
  • http://www.tortoise-tracks.org/gopherus.html
  • http://www.nps.gov/archive/moja/mojaandt.htm
  • National Geographic Encyclopedia of Animals