Monday, May 2, 2016

Say Yo to a Threatened Species...

Meet a Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassiziiand Gopherus morafkai).  

One would have a greater chance of seeing Sasquatch or Nessie the Loch Ness Monster than one of these units. Besides being rare, they spend 95% of their time in burrows. Out of sight, out of mind. 

I felt blessed to be on the receiving end of this close encounter of the Tortoise kind. 

There numbers have been greatly reduced by the usual suspects: loss of habitat (run over by strip malls, roads and subdivisions),  ATV'ers (run over by motorized vehicles), diseases (infected by pet tortoises released into the wild), and predation (Ravens really do a number on the soft shelled juveniles). 

In other words, it's not easy being green/gray.

In all the years and miles of wandering in the Southwest deserts, this is only the third one I've ever seen.  

However for some reason, this one made the tastiest soup!
Only joking! I would never harm a hair on its thumb sized head. That is if it had hair.

I hope one day you get the opportunity to see a Desert Tortoise. Hanging out with Horace the Tortoise made my day. It should do the same for you.

They live from 50-80 years. They know how to pace themselves. Maybe slow and steady wins the race after all. 

Cheers from Frigid Flagstaff, Arizona 
Last photo: the road does go on forever.


  1. Extra cool, seeing a desert tortoise! Thanks for sharing!

  2. So glad you saw a tortoise! Lucky you. Thought I'd share this article (or read the study if you have time) explaining how cattle and burro grazing are much higher on the list of threats to the desert tortoise than one might have guessed.

    Happy trails Jeff!