The Desert Tortoise(Gopherus Agassizii)

The desert tortoise is native to the Mojave Desert and Sonoran Desert of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. They can also be located in the western Arizona, southeastern California, south Nevada, and the southwestern region of Utah. It mainly likes to explore sandy flats and rocky foothills. This type of tortoise is able to live in climates where the temperature may reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius) because it is able to dig underground to hide away from the heat.



About 95% of the tortoise’s life is spent in it’s borrow. There it is not only protected from the heat but also protected from the freezing cold winter weather whilst inactive, from November through until February or March.


Tortoises usually mate during spring. In June or July the female will lay 3 to 5 hard shell eggs (which are the same shape and size as a Ping-pong ball) this is called a clutch. Around August and September the clutch will start to hatch. Wild female tortoises can produce 2 or possibly 3 clutches a year.


The tortoise’s shell is high-domed, and green to dark brown in color, they can get to a length of 25 – 36cm, 10 – 15cm in height and weigh 4 – 7kg, with males being slightly larger than the females. Male tortoises have a larger gular horn (located under the tortoises neck) compared to the female. They use this horn for fighting'Males also have longer tails than the females. Females have longer toe nails than the males.
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The desert tortoise is a herbivore, more than half of its diet is made up by grasses, but it also eats herbs, wildflowers, flowers and fruit. Most of the tortoise’s water intake comes from the grasses and wildflowers. The adult tortoise can survive up to one year with water.


Ravens, Gila monsters, Kit foxes, badgers, roadrunners, coyotes, and fire ants are all natural predators of the desert tortoise, they prey on the eggs or in some cases adults.

Turtle or Tortoise

What is the difference?

For starters turtles have flippers for swimming and live in the water most of the time. Where as tortoises live on land almost all their life so they do not have flippers but have ordinary feet, often with sharp claws for digging. They only enter water to drink or clean themselves, and can in fact drown in strong currents.


Shannah 6H