Desert Tortoise Photos - Coxcomb Mountains, Photo Gallery, Joshua Tree National Park, California
Desert Tortoise Photos - Coxcomb Mountains
Joshua Tree National Park
The Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) is a rarely seen and federally protected species of the Testudinidae family. The tortoise has a wide range including the Mojave and Sonoran deserts of southeastern California, southern Nevada and south through Arizona into Mexico. The Desert Tortoise is an amazing animal whose innate behavior and physical evolution goes back hundreds of thousands of years.
The Desert Tortoise can weigh 10 - 18 pounds and live between 40 - 80 years.
A Desert Tortoise walks the Coxcomb area of Joshua Tree National Park. The tortoise a herbivore - foraging dry shrubs in its native habitat.
Desert tortoises inhabit semi-arid grasslands, desert canyon washes and rocky hillsides. The tortoise spends 95 percent of its time in underground burrows - making sightings extremely rare.
The Coxcomb area of Joshua Tree National Park - home to the protected Desert Tortoise.
Both sexes have a gular horn - an anterior extension of the lower shell which protrudes from beneath the tortoise's neck. The male's horn is used in battling - the goal being to turn your opponent on its back.
The Desert Tortoise can attain a length of 9 to 15 inches in upper shell length and is able to live in ground temperatures exceeding 140 degrees.
Remnants of a deceased Desert Tortoise shell - it is not uncommon to find shells completely bleached by the desert sun.
The tortoise is characterized by its dark brown top shell - however, many are unaware of its bottom shell for additional protection.
To capitalize on water in desert conditions, tortoises dig 'catch basins' in the soil. When rain appears likely, tortoises can be found waiting near their basins to hydrate.
The Desert Tortoise has thick claws used for digging - in fact, the Desert Tortoise can dig burrows up to six feet deep.