Desert Tortoise Fun Facts
The desert tortoise is an herbivore, which means it eats plants. A desert tortoise's diet may include herbs, grasses, some shrubs, and the new growth of cacti and their flowers. The desert tortoise is the official reptile of the state of Nevada.
No other tortoise in North America shares the extreme conditions of habitats occupied by the desert tortoise.
The desert tortoise is able to live in very hot conditions because of its ability to dig underground burrows to escape the heat. It spends up to 95% of its time underground to escape the heat of the summer and the cold of winter.
Desert tortoises live in burrows, which they dig themselves. These can be 3-6 feet deep. They will spend November through February or March in a dormant state (brumation) in their underground burrows.
Their most active time is in the spring when they will look for food. During the hottest,driest periods of the year, the tortoise conserves water already stored in its body. This is especially important in the hot, dry Mojave Desert summers.
Much of the tortoise's water intake comes from moisture in the grasses and wildflowers they eat. Adult tortoises may survive a year or more without access to water.
Female tortoises usually lay between 4-6 eggs.
Tortoises can be between 4-6 inches high and 9-15 inches long (shell length). They can weigh between 8-15 pounds and they can live to be anywhere between 60-80 years old!