You may see a
desert tortoise on
Here is some information
to help keep these
threatened animals safe.
Help keep them safe.
THE DESERT TORTOISE
The desert tortoise is listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a threatened species. Under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), anyone who takes (the term "take" means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, collect, or attempt to engage in any such conduct) a tortoise is subject to civil and/or criminal penalties of up to a $50,000 fine and one year in jail, or both. BLM assists the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the enforcement of the Act. The desert tortoise is also considered by California to be a threatened species with associated penalties.
BIOLOGY: Like other reptiles, the desert tortoise is cold-blooded. To survive in the desert, the tortoise estivates (remains underground in its burrow) during the hottest times of the day during the summer and hibernates (sleeps underground in its burrow) during the cold of winter. Tortoises come out in the spring to eat grasses and wildflowers and drink water from the spring rains (although they obtain most of their water from the plants they eat). Also in spring, they socialize and look for mates. At other times of the year, they are less active above ground.
The desert tortoise reaches sexual maturity between 10 and 20 years of age. The females lay from 2 to 14 ping pong ball size eggs. Since a tortoise may live for 60 to 100 years, many eggs will be laid in a lifetime. However, only about five out of every 100 hatchlings will survive to become an adult tortoise. For the first six to eight years, the young tortoise's shell is no thicker than your fingernail, and therefore, it is easy prey for many other desert animals, especially the raven.
Many human activities also threaten the survival of the desert tortoise. Some of these include:
removing wild tortoises from the desert
releasing pet tortoises into the desert (they often carry disease)
driving off roads in areas not designated for off- highway vehicle play (tortoises are crushed in their burrows)
crushing tortoises as they are crossing roads
shooting at tortoises
SOME DOs and DON'TS:
For information and/or brochures, contact:
Bureau of Land Management
Ridgecrest Field Office
300 S. Richmond Rd.
Ridgecrest, CA 93555
Telephone: (760) 384-5400
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