Dec 26, 2017
Jillian Estrada, the Preserve Manager and Conservation
Coordinator for the Desert Tortoise Preserve Committee (DTPC)
explains why we should all care about the desert tortoise and her love for nature and
Africa adventures in our upcoming podcast on
Tuesday, December 26th. You can find out more about the DTPC’s
work, events and how you can help at www.tortoise-tracks.org.
If you are in the area in the springtime or summertime, plan a
visit to the Desert Tortoise Research Natural Area
(DTRNA) and take
advantage of the interpretive center and self-guided trails. More
events are also regularly updated on their Facebook page:
is a desert tortoise you ask? A desert tortoise is a land dwelling
turtle that weighs 10-17 pounds on average as an adult with a domed
shell size of 20-36 centimeters wide. Their hind legs look like
little elephant legs and their front legs are shovel-like and are
used for digging. They can live up to 50-80 years in the wild and
some in captivity have lived to as long as 100 years. Desert
tortoises don’t reach sexual maturity until around 14 years old.
Females deposit anywhere from 4-12 eggs in spring to Early Summer.
Unfortunately, approximately 2% of eggs hatched will turn into
adult turtles. They provide food for many predators such as ravens,
coyotes, hawks, eagle, fox, mountain lions, ground squirrels and
even fire ants.
of the many reasons that make a desert tortoise worth saving is
that it is a bellwether species; it provides early warning signs of
environmental danger or distress. When there are low numbers of
desert tortoises in an area where there once were many, you can
expect to see a decline in the number of burrowing owls and other
predator species. This will all change the biodiversity of an
Burrowing owls and other animals rely on the burrows
dug out from desert tortoises for protecting and nesting. Other
predator species rely on the desert tortoise for food. Also, the
desert tortoise diet relies a lot on native grasses, succulents and
flowers. If these plants are not present due to drought conditions
or some other environmental effect (or from vehicles and too much
foot traffic causing erosion), the desert tortoise cannot sustain
share the word and help us protect the Desert Tortoise, it is
currently listed as threatened.