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Desert Tortoise

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Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) in the Mojave desert
Desert Tortoise near Saint George, UT
Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) in Rainbow Basin near Barstow, California
Desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) at the Buffalo Zoo
The desert tortoise is a medium-sized species of tortoise that is found in the south-western desert regions of Northern America, and parts of northern Mexico. The desert tortoise is most commonly known for its high, patterned shell and the fact that is lives in burrows underground.

The desert tortoise is found inhabiting the vast sandy plains and rocky foothills that are in and surround both the Mojave and Sonoran deserts. When temperatures get too high for the desert tortoise it simply digs itself a burrow into the sand where it can remain cool until the heat dies down.

The desert tortoise has a number of biological adaptations that enable the desert tortoise to survive more successfully in such arid conditions. The front legs of the desert tortoise are heavy and flattened in shape. This complete with a set of claw-like scale means that the desert tortoise is an effective digger

As with other tortoise species, the desert tortoise is a herbivorous animal surviving only on organic plant matter. Grasses make up the majority of the desert tortoise's diet along with herbs, wild flowers and the rare fruits and berries that can be found.

Due to its small size, the desert tortoise has a surprising number of natural predators even despite its hard outer shell. Coyotes, feral cats, reptiles and birds of prey are the main predators of the desert tortoise along with the gila monster.

The average desert tortoise breeds twice a year, in the spring and again in the autumn. The female desert tortoise lays around 6 or 7 eggs although clutch sizes can be bigger or smaller. The ping-pong ball sized eggs of the desert tortoise usually hatch within a couple of months.

Desert Tortoise Comments (9)


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"My wife and I became serigate parents of two desert tortoise after a friends mother passed away and he couldn't care for them,we have had them now for about 15 years,along with other turtles,rabbits,cat,dog & gold fish. Neighbors call our house the zoo and bring their kids over to play with them,the two tortoise (Rosie & Violet) are our spoiled rotten babies that travel with us everywhere.Its reading these articles and talking to people that's been helpful in keeping them happy,healthy and alive.Thank you so much!! Ron"

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Desert Tortoise Translations

German Deutsch
Kalifornische Gopherschildkröte
English English
Desert Tortoise
French Français
Tortue du désert
Hungarian Magyar
Kaliforniai üregteknős
Japanese 日本語
Dutch Nederlands
Gopherus agassizii

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Desert Tortoise Facts

Five groups that classify all living things...
A group of animals within the animal kingdom...
A group of animals within a pylum...
A group of animals within a class...
A group of animals within an order...
A group of animals within a family...
Scientific Name:
Comprised of the genus followed by the species...
Gopherus Agassizii
The animal group that the species belongs to...
What kind of foods the animal eats...
Size (L):
How long (L) or tall (H) the animal is...
25cm - 36cm (10in - 14in)
The measurement of how heavy the animal is...
4kg - 7kg (8lbs - 15lbs)
Top Speed:
The fastest recorded speed of the animal...
0.5km/h (0.3mph)
Life Span:
How long the animal lives for...
25 - 60 years
Whether the animal is solitary or sociable...
Conservation Status:
The likelihood of the animal becoming extinct...
The colour of the animal's coat or markings...
Black, Brown, Tan, Yellow
Skin Type:
The protective layer of the animal...
Favourite Food:Grasses
The specific area where the animal lives...
Sandy desert plains and rocky hills
Average Clutch Size:
The average number of eggs laif at once...
Main Prey:
The food that the animal gains energy from...
Grasses, Herbs, Flowers
Other animals that hunt and eat the animal...
Coyote, Birds, Gila Monster
Distinctive Features:
Characteristics unique to the animal...
Small size and patterned shell

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Can live until they are more than 150 years old!