Desert Tortoise Facts | Desert Tortoise Habitat & Diet

You don’t need to go anywhere else to learn some of the most interesting desert tortoise facts as these are described in plain and simple language here. The desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii, Gopherus morafkai) is a species of tortoise that is endemic to the Sonoran and Mojave deserts of the northwestern Mexico and southwestern United States. These reptiles have cosmopolitan distribution all throughout the United States and they are usually found in the southwestern California, southwestern Utah, southern Nevada, and western Arizona. There are only two species of desert tortoises. These tortoises also inhabit across the Colorado River in Arizona, with some individuals exist in Sinalao, Sinaloa, and Mexico.

Fascinating Desert Tortoise Facts

The desert tortoises can grow to a length of about 10 – 14 inches (25 – 36 cm), with females being slightly smaller as compared to males.

The females have shorter gular horn than males, and their lower shell is rather less concave than the males’ shell.

The female desert tortoises have shorter tails in comparison to the males.

The height of the adult species measure around 4 – 6″ (10 – 15 cm), with the weight measuring at 4 – 7 kg (8 – 15 lb).

The desert tortoises have very long hind legs.

The lifespan of desert tortoise is about 80 – 100 years.

The desert tortoises are thought to have been infected by numerous pathogens such as bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses.

Where Do Desert Tortoises Live

These reptiles are capable to survive even in extreme hot temperatures; even at the temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius), since they dig burrows underground to get rid of this much heat. More than 95% of the desert tortoise’s life is spent in these burrows. By making these burrows, they are also beneficial to some other mammals, reptiles, and invertebrates. The desert tortoises have been classified into two types; Morafka’s and the Agassiz Desert tortoise. A good many number of Agassiz’s desert tortoise also resides in the Black Mountains, northwestern Arizona. These reptiles fancy their habitats in rocky foothills as well as in sandy flats. The desert tortoise habitats can be found at an altitude of 3,500 feet (1,100 meters) above the sea level. Tortoises are very much devoted to their habitats and do not often leave their original territorial range.

What Do Desert Tortoises Eat

Like other tortoises, desert tortoises are also herbivorous. These reptiles primarily feed on grasses, herbs, freshly-grown cacti, wildflowers, fruits and other flowers. They are known to digest small pebbles and stones to ensure an essential calcium intake. They take enough moisture from wildflowers that are necessary to make a good living. The desert tortoises tend to drink too much in the rainfall season.


  • The mating season of these tortoises begin in the spring and fall. The males are known to circle around the females and bite the female’s shell at the same time to climb over her shell to do the rest.
  • The females normally lay a clutch size of about 4 – 8 hard-shelled eggs.
  • The eggs are typically laid in the months of June and July while they’re hatched in August and September.
  • The female desert tortoises generate 2 – 3 clutches each year.
  • The period of incubation lasts for about 3 – 4 months.
  • They reach the maturity age after 15 years.
  • The average lifespan of these reptiles is 50 – 80 years; however, 80 – 100 years is not unusual age in case of desert tortoises.


Some of the most common predators of desert tortoises are coyotes, kit foxes, gila monsters, Ravens, badgers, roadrunners, and fire ants. They usually target the young turtles or even their eggs.


2 responses to “Desert Tortoise Facts | Desert Tortoise Habitat & Diet”

  1. wow,this is areally good facts irea plCE WERE children should there homework,as aspecial list it is amazing well done!

    1. you’re right it help me

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