Desert Tortoise

Gopherus Agassizii

Scientific Name

Desert Tortoise:  
Gopherus Agassizii

Distribution and Habitat

Geographic Range

Southwest North America in the Mojave and Sonoran deserts.

Natural Habitat

This timid reptile resides in sandy desert regions.

Physical Characteristics

  • Possessing a hard upper shell which measures from nine to 15 inches, the desert tortoise uses its flattened, armored, muscular forearms for burrowing. Their rear limbs are column-like. Their tails are very short.

Quick Facts

  1. The desert tortoise is an excellent burrower. It can dig trenches as long as fifteen feet in length and two-three feet deep to escape the heat. These trenches are generally five degrees cooler than the mean average temperature.

  2. At least 95% of its life is spent in burrows. There, it is also protected from freezing while dormant, November through February or March.

  3. Desert Tortoises make hisses, pops and poink sounds, perhaps as fear and distress calls.



Conservation Status

Vulnerable: The Desert Tortoise population has been seriously depleted and its protection is not secured

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This herbivore dines on herbs, grasses and a wide variety of desert plants.