The following photographs and video of this healthy, wild juvenile desert tortoise were made by our guest Emily Curry on Sunday morning, May 3, at our unfenced Midcentury Prefab Homesteader Cabin in north Joshua Tree (cabin rental info here). We’ve seen this little guy (gal?) before, and know where one of his burrows is, but we’ve never been able to get photos — thank you, Emily!
It is very rare to see a healthy juvenile desert tortoise in the wild — this is only the third one we’ve ever seen in our time living out here. Few desert tortoises survive into adulthood due to death by predation (ravens, coyotes); disease; and adverse human activity — road and building construction, off-road vehicle use and climate change — which shrinks available habitat. (More info on threats to the desert tortoise here.)