All photos by Stephanie Smith.
Stephanie spotted this marvelous, out-of-time animal sitting in the wash while she was on her daily morning run. I hurried down to join her in bewonderment for the next half-hour. Very strange as last night, I’d had my first-ever dream featuring tortoises…
The tortoise’s carapace was maybe 10-12 inches long.
In America, the term “tortoise” refers to all turtle species that live primarily on land. According to fossil records, the desert tortoise, Gopherus agassizii, is one of four species that have remained virtually unchanged since the Oligocene Epoch (27-37 million years ago)…
Some info on desert tortoise burrows:
…Tortoises in the Mojave Desert in California and the northern limits of the range in Nevada and Utah seem more inclined to construct extensive burrows, up to 35 feet in length (Lawler, 2000). They spend most of each day in underground burrows to prevent overheating in the summer and freezing in the winter. Such burrows stabilize temperature and humidity providing protection from intense winter freezes and extremely summer heat (Lawler, 2000). It is common for tortoises to use the same den year after year and share often with other tortoises. As many as 25 hibernating tortoises have been found in one den, although a more typical aggregation would contain no more than five individuals (Lawler, 2000). Tortoises also acquire their dens either by excavating burrows themselves, or finding previously occupied dens from other species. Burrows are typically located under rocks or bushes, preferably along sloping terrain, and along washes, either at the base or elevated from the bottom (Lawler, 2000).