Discover How Hikers Work Around the Threatened Desert Tortoise
The desert tortoise is one of the many animals hikers encounter along Mojave and Sonoran Desert trails. But youre lucky if you come across one because they spend most of their lives underground coming up to eat mate and bask in the sizzling sun. So what do you do if the rare opportunity to gaze at this ancient reptile in the wild presents itself? Discover how hikers work around the threatened desert tortoise and what they do when they spot one along a trail.
Desert Tortoise Types
The Sonoran Desert tortoise spends nearly 95 of its life underground.
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There are three species of desert tortoise which are native to the Mojave Colorado and Sonoran Deserts of the United States and Mexico.
Agassizs Desert Tortoise
One species is Agassizs desert tortoise Gopherus agassizii also known as the Mojave desert tortoise. Hikers will see this species in the desert scrub and desert valleys in the the Mojave and Colorado Deserts. Unfortunately their populations have significantly declined in recent years.
The Morafkas desert tortoise Gopherus morafkai is most commonly called the Sonoran desert tortoise. This species lives in the desert scrub on rocky hillsides in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona and Mexico. They spend nearly 95 of their lives underground to avoid the harsh desert. However they are most active above ground from midMarch to October.
Goodes Thornscrub Tortoise
The last species is the Goodes thornscrub tortoise Gopherus evgoodei also called the Sinaloan thornscrub tortoise. You can find them in the hills and low mountains surrounded by boulders and rock outcroppings in Sinaloa and Sonora Mexico. Little is known about the Goodes thornscrub tortoise biology and conservation status. Hikers will only come across this species in Northern Mexico.
Animals That Rely on the Desert Tortoise for Survival
Many desert species benefit from the presence of the threatened desert tortoises and their burrows. Such species include the Gila monster burrowing owls roadrunners and collared peccaries.
When to Spot a Desert Tortoise
Spring is the active season for the threatened desert tortoise.
clayton harrisonShutterstock com
The desert tortoise is