Desert tortoise tracks at Kelso Dunes, Mojave National Preserve.
Background: Tortoise tracks at Kelso Dunes, Mojave National Preserve. This tortoise was moving to the left, as shown by the mounds of sand at the back of each track.
Desert tortoises are completely terrestrial. They live in burrows up to 30 feet long which
allows them to escape the desert heat during the day. They emerge from their burrows
during the cooler parts of the day, especially in the spring when more plants are
available to eat. They locate their burrows where there is enough ground
moisture for eggs to survive and where they can find grass, cactus, or
other low growth for food. They spend up to 95% of their lives
living in their burrows. These animals live in the south-
western United States and northern Mexico.
Adult tortoises may survive a year without
access to water. Never pick up a
desert tortoise. If they are
frightened they may
lose water stored
in their bodies,