State Reptile

Desert Tortoise

The desert tortoise can live 45-100 years and inhabit desert shrub areas from 1,000-4,000 feet elevation.  They can store water in their bodies for nearly a year and eat insects, cacti, fruit, flowers, and grass to get additional moisture. They hibernate together during winter in tunnels up to 30 feet deep.

Males are about 15 inches long, have domed shells, and are larger than females. Females breed when 15-20-years old, laying about 15 eggs 2-3 times between May-July. Young tortoises have a soft, leathery shell that takes 5 years to harden. Being vulnerable to predators, only about 2% of them reach adulthood. They are on the Endangered Species Act list and it is illegal to touch, harm or collect them. Crucial habitat protected areas have been set up to protect them.

(Assembly Bill 1089, Chapter 683, 1972)

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