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spacer.gif   The Desert Tortoise
Posted by: Anonymous on Friday, October 11, 2002 - 06:30 PM
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Amazing Creatures The desert tortoise manages to survive harsh desert conditions by adapting to its environment. They can live up to 50 years.

They eat leaves, cacti and grasses on rocky well-vegetated slopes and washes. They obtain all the water they need from their food, but they will drink if water is available. In the Sonoran Desert, the summer 'monsoon' season provides a welcome drench from the hot dry conditions where the temperatures regularly exceed 105 F.



This tortoise was one of two I found foraging during a hike on the Tanque Verde Ridge trail, on the Rincorn Mountains, Tucson, Arizona. region. Normally they are extremely difficult to find during the day! They spend up to 95% of their life underground. They hibernate from November to March in a burrow or at the base of a brush. During this hibernation the body metabolism slows and its temperature drops.



The female lays her eggs, up to fourteen, between Mid-April to early June. The odds for survival are small, since the small hatchlings have many predators, including kit foxes, badgers, coyotes, ravens and roadrunners. The shell takes up to eight years to harden, to offer sufficient protection from its natural predators. The hard shell also acts as an excellent heat insulator.



Images of the (Sonoran) Desert Tortoise can be found on our Image Gallery

 
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