Desert Tortoise

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desert tortoise-2-400The desert tortoises live approximately 30 to 50 years; they grow slowly and generally have low reproductive rates. They spend most of time in burrows, rock shelters, and pallets to regulate body temperature and reduce water loss. They are most active after seasonal rains and are inactive during most of the year. This inactivity helps reducing water loss during hot periods, whereas winter hibernation facilitates survival during freezing temperatures and low food availability. Desert tortoises can tolerate water, salt, and energy imbalances on a daily basis, which increases their lifespan.

These tortoises may attain a length of 10 to 14 inches, with males being slightly larger than females. Males have larger tails than females do. Their shells are high-domed, and greenish-tan to dark brown in color. Desert tortoises can grow up to 4–6 in in height. They can range in weight from 24 to 51 lbs. The front limbs have sharp, claw-like scales and are flattened for digging. Back legs are skinnier and very long.

Desert tortoises can live in areas with ground temperatures exceeding 140 °F (60 °C) because of their ability to dig underground burrows and escape the heat. At least 95% of their life is spent in burrows. There, it is also protected from freezing winter weather while dormant, from November through February or March.

Conservation Status: Vulnerable
Vulnerable - VN

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Stay tuned. Video coming soon!

Here are a few fun facts:

  • Desert tortoises can live well over 30 years, with estimates of lifespan varying from 32 to 53 years.
  • The humidity within burrows prevents dehydration. Burrows also provide protection from predators.
  • With its burrow, this tortoise creates a subterranean environment that can be beneficial to other reptiles, mammals, birds and invertebrates.

Park Hours

Open 7 days a week
April 1 st – October 31 st:
10:00 am to 5:00 pm

November 1 st – March 31 st:
10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day

Admission Prices

Adults 13 & over: $10.00

Children 5 to 12: $8.00

Children 3 to 4: $5.00

Seniors 65+: $9.00

Children 2 years & under — FREE

Our Location

Charles Paddock Zoo is located at 9100 Morro Road, Atascadero, CA 93422

Contact Us

Phone: 805.461.5080

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