Agassiz’s/California/Mojave Desert Tortoise

Agassiz’s/California/Mojave Desert Tortoise Gopherus agassizii

Type of Animal:

Desert, burrows, desert washes, alluvial fans, desert canyons, canyon bottoms, desert scrub, desert shrubland, creosotebush areas, creosote bush/burro bush desert, blackbrush areas, western honey mesquite-saltbush habitat, ocotillo-creosote areas, Joshua tree desert shrub woodland, Joshua tree areas, Joshua tree woodland/forest, alkali sink desert shrub, valleys, flats, rocky foothills, hillsides, bajadas, slopes, sandy hills, thornscrub, grassland, woodland, drained sandy loam soils in plains, dunes, edges of basaltic flow, well-drained vegetated alkali flats, arroyos, flat areas, sandy soil areas, desert pavements, prefer soil suitable for den/burrow construction, can be found from below sea level to 7,300 ft

W Arizona, SE California, S Nevada, SW Utah

Carapace (upper shell) horn, orange-brown, gray-brown, dark gray, dark brown, or greenish-tan, plastron (bottom shell) tan/yellow, short tail, males have longer tails, short round thick elephantine hind limbs, armored flattened forelimbs, small round head, males have gular shields of plastron extending out under throat, oblong domed shell

Grasses, weeds, greens, leaves, leafy plants, vegetables, fruit, cacti, flowers, grains, legumes, berries, vines, petals, shoots, stalks, herbs, shrubs, stems, bark, succulents, annuals, perennials, wood, poop

Status in Wild:
Critically Endangered

Breeding in zoos & breeding centers. Desert Tortoise Preserve Committee protects around 5,000 acres of desert tortoise habitat in Kern, San Bernardino, & Riverside County, CA. Head-starting program by San Diego Zoo Global w/ US Geological Survey, Edwards Air Force Base, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) & Cadiz, Inc. Reintroductions into parts of native range.

Solitary or herds of 2-23 tortoises which can be same-sex or mixed-sex w/ more females than males.

Additional Info:

Young: Hatchling
Group: Herd/Bale

Male: 10-44 lbs
Female: 8-28 lbs
Young: 2.98 oz

4 months

Life Span:
40-80 years

Male: 6 in
Female: 4 in

Body Length:
Male: 0.59-1.08 ft
Female: 0.6-0.9 ft
Young: 0.45 ft

Tail Length:
Male: Longer/Wider
Female: Short/Blunt

Main predators of adults are badgers, canids, felids, golden eagles, ravens, & large hawks. Smaller hawks, owls, falcons, kingsnakes, rats, skunks, ground squirrels, gila monsters, roadrunners, weasels, fire ants, & loggerhead shrikes eat young.
Critically endangered due to habitat loss/destruction/fragmentation, development, pet trade, overcollection, urbanization, wildfires, road collisions, low reproductive rate, agriculture, livestock grazing, military operations, upper respiratory tract diseases caused by Mycoplasma bacteria, illegal dumping of hazardous waste, & predation by ravens (especially of younger animals).
Sexually mature at 12-15 years old.

Fun Fact(s):
State reptile of California.
Burrows usually 3-6 ft deep, sometimes up to 10 ft, often sharing burrows w/ each other as well as other species.

1 thought on “Agassiz’s/California/Mojave Desert Tortoise


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