Desert Tortoise Gopherus agassizii
Within the desert’s fragile ecosystem, tortoise populations are rapidly diminishing; in some places they have disappeared. Losses are due to vandalism, to raven predation, disease, collections for pets (now illegal), and habitat degradation. Habitat has been lost or damaged from mining, livestock grazing, development of desert lands for agriculture, sub-divisions, high-ways, industrial uses and off-road vehicle use.
Tortoise populations grow slowly because of their low reproductive potential. Females do not breed until 15 to 20 years old and then may lay clutches of eggs only when adequate forage is available. Also, survival of juveniles is low, only 2-3 per 100 hatched may live to become adults.
To read more about the desert tortoise in the wild click on the article titles listed below. You may also like to browse through the Special Reports and Occasional Papers on the DTPC Articles and Reports page and take the DTNA Virtual Field Trip.
by Kristin H. Berry
- Habitat Use and Food Preferences of the Desert Tortoise, Gopherus agassizii, in the Western Mojave Desert and Impacts of Off-road Vehicles
by W. Bryan Jennings
brief, illustrated guide to the life history of desert tortoises.
by E. Karen Spangenberg
by Elliot Jacobson