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Desert Tortoise at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens Desert Tortoise at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

help the Desert Tortoise

The desert tortoise is the only tortoise native to Southern California. The wild population is listed as threatened, mainly due to human-related activity, such as development of natural desert areas.

There are many ways to help protect the desert tortoise

  1. Do not take tortoises from the wild! Desert tortoises are protected by federal law and should not be removed from the wild unless they are seriously injured. If you do find an injured desert tortoise, contact the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to report it.
  2. The California Turtle and Tortoise Club works with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to re-home captive desert tortoises, and often has tortoises waiting to be placed in caring homes. For information on tortoise adoption, visit California Turtle & Tortoise Club. It is not permitted to breed captive desert tortoises, nor can captive tortoises be released to the wild due to the threat of disease. If you can no longer care for your captive desert tortoise, contact the California Turtle and Tortoise Club to relinquish the tortoise.
  3. In high desert areas like Joshua Tree, check beneath your car for tortoises - one may have sought shade there while you were parked. Remember to slow down when driving to avoid hitting tortoises crossing the roadway. If you do find a tortoise in the road, slowly approach the tortoise so it can see you. Pick up the tortoise using both hands (one on each side of the shell), lifting it up no more than a few feet high, and carrying it level to the ground. Slowly walk the tortoise to a shady spot off the road in the same direction it was headed. Always watch your safety near the road.
  4. Pick up and properly secure your trash, both at home and while out recreating in the desert. This simple step helps tortoises by reducing attractants to predators of the tortoise, like the Common Raven, into desert areas. The Living Desert participates in a campaign (The Healthy Desert Education Project) regarding ravens and keeping trash covered. Learn more>>
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