Mojave (Desert Tortoise)

Gopherus agassizi

California Desert tortoises are protected by law in California.  The California Turtle and Tortoise Club handles the permitting of all tortoises in California. Desert tortoises thrive in warm climates but require shelter from the sun and the cold.  Even in the desert they hibernate for a short period in the winter.  They are susceptible to respiratory illnesses that are extremely contagious, so captive tortoises must never be returned to the desert.  If the bottom of their shell is concave, the tortoise is a male.  The shape allows the male to mount the female.  If the bottom of the shell is flat, the tortoise is a female. They are on the move constantly which is why they are often lost by pet owners.  Sadly many tortoises have a hole drilled in their shell allowing the pet owner to tether the tortoise so it cannot wander away.  This often ends in tragic loss of limbs when the chain or rope wraps around the leg and goes unnoticed until the circulation is cut off.

Mojave was brought to us by a Fish and Wildlife warden from the southern Central Valley.  He too was found roaming around town.

Mojave and Tank, our other desert tortoise, spend too much time determining who will be the dominant tortoise…spending hours trying to tip the other one over on its back--a death sentence if the tortoise cannot right himself before the sun bakes him.  As a result, we rotate them in our outdoor enclosure, giving each a chance to browse every other day.  Once our permanent enclosure is finished, each tortoise will have his own realm to rule.