PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

This is a medium-sized tortoise (up to 19 in [49 cm] carapace size) with no plastral or carapacial hinge, a domed shell, the twelfth marginal scutes fused right into a single supracaudal scute, the fifth vertebral scute the broadest within the collection, the carapacial scutes with mild facilities, a single axillary scute on every bridge, a divided gular scute that doesn't strongly mission anteriorly, the premaxilla and the paired maxilla every bearing a medial ridge, the forelimbs flattened and shovel-like, the width of the forefeet and hind ft roughly equal, and the tail not flattened.

DISTRIBUTION

Southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico.

HABITAT

Thorn scrub to cactus deserts.

BEHAVIOR

This species constructs a burrow to be used as a retreat from predators and the climate. Burrows could also be barely lengthy sufficient to accommodate the tortoise or so long as 33 ft (10 m) in northern websites. These tortoises stay inactive in the course of the hottest components of the day in summer time and migrate to deeper burrows to hibernate for the winter. Desert tortoises are surprisingly social and head-bob at each other every time they meet. Male-to-male encounters start with head-bobbing, however escalate into ramming contests utilizing the gular projections on the anterior plastron. This fight is sometimes intense sufficient to outcome within the overturning of one of many males.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Desert tortoises are primarily herbivorous, feeding on numerous grasses, cacti and different succulents, and flowers.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Maturity in desert tortoises is reached after 15 to 20 years. Courtship and mating are steady from the spring to the autumn. The male follows the feminine, bobbing his head as he overtakes and circles her. He then bites at her head, forelimbs, or shell, and will even ram her with the gular projections on his plastron. Eventually if she is receptive and stays stationary, he strikes behind her and mounts her shell for copulation. He produces hissing and grunting sounds whereas mounted. Nesting happens primarily from May although July, with one to three clutches of two to 15 eggs (often 5 - 6) being laid annually. However, some females apparently skip copy in some years. The eggs are brittle-shelled, elliptical to practically spherical, and common 1.6–1.eight in (40–45 mm) by 1.3–1.5 in (34–38 mm). Incubation within the area requires 90–120 days.

CONSERVATION STATUS

This species is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Habitat destruction (for street or housing building, agriculture, livestock grazing, and by off-street car use) is more and more affecting pure populations. In addition, tortoises in lots of populations are troubled with higher respiratory tract illness, attributable to a mycoplasmic bacterium.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

These tortoises more and more are collected illegally for the Asian food markets in bigger western U.S. cities.