Apr 30, 2013

Fur, Feathers & Scales - Desert Tortoise

Hi friends!  Meet one of my favorite animals, the desert tortoise!  This is Duey...

Tortoises, as opposed to turtles, live their lives on the land.  This species can be found in the deserts of the Southwest United States.

Their shells are made out of bones, and the scales covering their shells are called scutes.  You can see the different lines of the scutes below...

Contrary to what you may have heard, you cannot count the lines on a turtle or tortoise shell to accurately know its age.  Desert tortoises can live a very long time--up to 80 years!

Tortoises and turtles have no teeth, but they have a very hard, beak-like mouth.  The desert tortoise is a herbivore and will feed primarily on cacti, which is also their source for water.

Because they live on the land, they have very stumpy feet (much like an elephant's foot).  They also have very large, hard scales to protect their bodies from the harsh elements of their desert homes, but they also use these thick scales for protection from other tortoises or animals they may need to fight.

It may seem weird, but I just love watching tortoises eat. I tried to tempt this guy with a strawberry, but he wasn't interested.  I did get another animal to partake in the berry...but you'll have to wait a while for that one. :)

So cute!

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