Desert tortoise Facts

Desert tortoise Facts
Desert tortoise is a type of tortoise adapted to the life in extreme, desert conditions. It can be found in California (Mojave Desert), Mexico (Sonoran desert), Nevada, Utah and Arizona. Desert tortoise inhabits areas covered with creosote bushes, rocky canyons, semi-arid grasslands and hillsides. It usually lives on the altitude of 1000 to 3000 feet, but it can survive even on the elevation of 5000 feet. Number of desert tortoise dropped over 90% in the past three decades due to habitat destruction, introduction of new species, diseases and illegal pet trade. Desert tortoises from the western part of Mojave Desert are listed as vulnerable (they may become endangered in the near future).
Interesting Desert tortoise Facts:
Desert tortoise can reach 4 to 6 inches in height, 9 to 15 inches in length and 8 to 15 pounds of weight.
Young desert tortoises are usually light tan colored. Adult animals are dark brown colored.
Desert tortoise has scaled head and high domed shell.
Desert tortoise can survive in areas where temperature of the ground reaches 60 degrees of Celsius.
Desert tortoise is herbivore (plant-eater). Its diet consists of available vegetation, usually of shrubs, grass, cacti and their flowers.
Desert tortoise eats in the spring and autumn, when food is available.
Desert tortoise has strong, heavily scaled front legs equipped with sharp claws that are used for digging of underground burrows. These animals spend more than 95% of their life under the ground.
Home range of desert tortoises covers the area of 10 to 100 acres. Males occupy larger territories than females. Underground burrows are complex, 3 to 6 feet deep and up to 30 feet long. Burrows can be shared with up to 23 other tortoises and lots of other desert creatures (insects, birds, reptiles and mammals).
Desert tortoises spend period from November to February under the ground. They will leave burrows only to drink water that collects on the ground after heavy rains.
Desert tortoises can survive one year without water. They absorb water from the vegetation they eat and dig shallow pools in the ground to collect rainwater.
Desert tortoises store water in the bladder. In the case of danger, turtles will release urine. Unfortunately, turtle will die out of dehydration if it doesn't find new source of water to refill body reserves as soon as possible.
Main predators of desert tortoise are Gila monsters, foxes, coyotes, badgers, ravens, roadrunners and mountain lions. They usually hunt young desert turtles.
Mating season takes place from late summer to early autumn.
Females reach sexual maturity at the age of 15 to 20 years. They lay 4 to 6 eggs from May to July. Eggs are shaped like ping-pong balls. Incubation period lasts 10 to 12 months. Only 2% of hatchlings reach adulthood.
Desert tortoise can survive from 50 to 80 years in the wild.

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