As I go about my daily duties caring for the tortoises in the medical pavilion at the San Diego Zoo’s Desert Tortoise Conservation Center (DTCC), I am constantly reminded about how fragile these seemingly tough little critters can be. Thousands of years of evolution have made these guys the highly adapted desert burrowers that they are today, but there are just some things that their strong shells and tough skin cannot protect them from.
Archive for the 'Desert Tortoise Conservation' Category
Greetings to my fellow tortoise lovers!
We’ve finally finished up with our busy season here at the San Diego Zoo’s Desert Tortoise Conservation Center (DTCC) in Las Vegas, and the tortoises have gone into hibernation for the winter. Now that we have time to reflect on everything we did last season, I want to share with you one of our success stories.
We also introduced a family of 18 tortoises, ranging from hatchlings to adults, that all came to us through our Desert Tortoise Hotline from the same home and were not in very good health; it gave us the perfect opportunity to encourage people to surrender their pet desert tortoises to the Clark County Desert Tortoise Hotline here in southern Nevada so we can rehabilitate the tortoises and eventually release the healthy ones into the desert to help recover the species. We are confident that all 18 tortoises will be successfully rehabilitated by this time next year, and maybe even sooner.
One very important part of my job is to maintain the outdoor tortoise enclosures here at the San Diego Zoo’s Desert Tortoise Conservation Center (DTCC), and in particular to ensure that the burrows in which tortoises live are well insulated from the harsh desert sun and heat. Tortoises spend over 90 percent of their lives in their burrows, so it is incredibly important that they are comfortable in them. While taking care of the burrows last week, I unexpectedly located several tortoise nests! You may be wondering how it is that I didn’t know there would be nests in the enclosures, but here’s what happens…
During the years I have spent working with desert tortoises, the one thing that I am continuously asked is “How do you know if it is a female or a male?” Well, it’s not an easy answer because there’s more than one way to determine the sex of a desert tortoise, and it can take some practice to get it right.