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Desert Tortoise Report

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The Desert Tortoise;
The desert tortoise is a type of tortoise is located in the Mojave Desert, Sonoran Desert and the North Western part of Mexico. This is where they are located naturally. The niche of the desert tortoise is in deserts (hence the name) or places with a hot climax. This animal is called a tortoise because they live on land and turtles live in the sea.
They can grow up to 25 – 36cm in length. They can also grow up to 15cm in height. They range in weight from 11 – 23kg’s. Females are also usually smaller in size than males. Their shells are quite high domed and the colour of their shell can be from a light brown to dark with orange or yellowish markings. They also have powerful limbs that are equipped with claws to dig its underground burrows and their front limbs are covered with a thick covering of scales. This is a structural adaptation and helps them to survive ground temperatures greater than 140 degrees! This helps the tortoise to survive in its niche because if it didn’t have the adaptation of having scales to protect its skin from the scorching hot sand, its skin would burn.
Desert tortoises occupy deserts, grasslands, canyon bottoms and rocky hillsides. The weather is usually very hot and the temperature can go past 45 degress! The types of plants that live in the area are cacti, agave, Joshua tree, desert wild flowers, etc. All these plants are able to survive in the hot desert conditions. They dig burrows under bushes, overhanging soil, rock formations or into open soil. At least 95% of their life is spent in burrows!
In the food chain they are the primary consumer. Here is an example of a food chain: Grass – Desert Tortoise – Rattle Snake – Coyote – Mountain Lion. Since they are a primary consumer (they only eat plants) this makes the desert tortoise a herbivore. So therefore grasses form the bulk of its diet. But it also eats herbs, wild flowers (depends on season), cacti and fruit (this is only for people who have them as pets). Plus they get most of their water from their food. They have a bladder which can store up to 40% of the tortoise’s body weight! They can also digest bone, rocks and soil! This is so they can obtain calcium and other minerals that they need from the rock. This is an example of a physiological adaptation. This helps them to survive in their niche because if there is not much food for them to survive on they can resort to bone, rock and soil to get the minerals and calcium that they need to survive.
The animals that live in the same area or near the desert tortoise are: Anna’s Hummingbird, Bark Scorpion, Bobcat, Cactus Wren, Collared Lizard, Coyote, Desert Centipede, Rattlesnake, Fire Ants, Road Runners and hawk. Of all these animals the desert tortoise’s natural predators are Road Runners, Coyotes, Fire Ants and the Mountain Lion. A great example of behavioural adaptation is when the desert tortoise makes hisses, pops and poink sounds as fear and distress calls. This helps because they are warning other tortoises that there is a predator in the area thus helping keep others of their kind stay alive.
These are amazing animals that have come so far and adapted in so many ways. The desert tortoise is a perfect example of a reptile that has done well to have adapted itself to its environment and surroundings.

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