Desert TortoiseGopherus agassizii
FamilyTestudinidae, the tortoise family.
RangeNorth America, Mexico
HabitatDry washes, flats, or hillsides.
HighlightsThese clever reptiles build up most of their fat and water reserves in the spring when the desert is painted with wildflowers, grasses and succulent green plants.
The desert tortoise has roamed the desert’s landscape for tens of thousands of years, escaping scorching temperatures in burrows deep underground.
Tortoises can completely withdraw their head and limbs into their shell, leaving only the horny scales visible to potential predators.
Desert tortoise populations are threatened by raven predation, urbanization, illegal collection for the pet trade, off-highway vehicles, and upper-respiratory tract infections. The Living Desert’s Healthy Desert Education Project, features the Time to Talk Trash campaign, which educates people about how the dramatic rise in raven populations has led to a decrease in tortoise hatchling survival rates.