Like its name suggests, the Desert Tortoise is a tortoise that lives in the desert. There are not many Desert Tortoises because they have been caught for sale as pets and because their habitat has been subject to development.
Shell size: Up to 22cm
(Source: Doubutsu Sekai-isan* Red Data Animals Kodansha) (*World Animal Heritage)
You’ll find the Desert Tortoise in the Mojave Desert in the United States and in the Sonoran Desert in Mexico.
The Desert Tortoise eats cactuses and other plants.
Because the Desert Tortoise lives in desert regions where there is not much water, it can store the water that it gets from eating plants in its body.
A famous desert hole-digger
The Desert Tortoise lives in desert areas in the North American continent. In summer the temperature reaches over 60°C and drops below freezing in winter. Because it lives in such a harsh environment, the Desert Tortoise uses its powerful front legs to dig holes in the ground, where it spends most of the day. This way it can escape heat and cold under ground, where the difference in temperatures is not as extreme as above ground. In midsummer and midwinter it rests in especially deep holes.
The tortoise that lost its home due to development in the desert
One reason why there are not as many Desert Tortoises as there used to be is that they have been caught to be sold as pets. They have also lost their homes due to development in the desert and are sometimes killed in traffic accidents. Holes dug by the Desert Tortoise are reused as burrows by snakes, lizards, and many other animals. These other animals will also be in trouble if the Desert Tortoise dies out.
If you click the words above, you can see other animals related to this one.