11 Amazing Desert Tortoise Facts for Kids [UPDATED Facts]

interesting facts about the desert tortoise

Is your little one obsessed with the Ninja Turtles or Master Oogway from the movie Kung Fu Panda? Or maybe he is fascinated by the tortoises in the Discovery or National Geographic Channel. Does your kid want you to buy him a pet tortoise?

In all probability, you might want to tell your little one a few things about this animal. So, here are 11 desert tortoise facts for kids that your little one might want to know about.

11 Most Interesting & Fun Facts about Desert Tortoises for Kids

Tortoises in general are fascinating creatures of nature and are found almost everywhere on land from mountains, grasslands to deserts. Although most of the characteristics of desert tortoises are similar to the rest of their species, there are some special characteristics that can only be found in desert tortoises.

You can read our article- Tortoise Facts for Kids, for more information

Let’s jump into the list of desert tortoise facts-

1. They dig grooves into the ground to catch rainwater

Living in deserts can be quite difficult for anyone due to the lack of vegetation and water sources. However, what is interesting about the desert tortoises is that they have learned to dig grooves on the ground which will help them catch rainwater whenever it pours down. Thus, they can slurp up the water later on and not be thirsty!

2. Desert tortoises can go an entire year without water

One of the points that deserve to be on the list of the article ‘11 Amazing Desert Tortoise Facts for Kids’ is that these animals can go without drinking water for a whole year. As already mentioned in the previous point, once they slurp up the water, they can store it in their bladder. Later, they absorb the liquid in case they need to hydrate.

3. Males can fight to establish dominance

Tortoises are generally solitary animals and can barely be seen with companions. The same goes for desert tortoises. However, it is not unusual to find males fighting to establish their dominance. The duel ends if one male is able to flip over another male on his back. The flipped tortoise takes a while to stand up again by wiggling himself back and forth.

4. Desert tortoises dig burrows to escape the heat

The heat in desert regions can go up significantly. In such cases, it becomes necessary for the plants and animals living there to come up with ways to escape the heat. The way the desert tortoise does that is by digging burrows on the grounds. These burrows can be as deep as 37m and it can get very crowded in them as many tortoises huddle together to escape the heat.

5. Their shell color is lighter than others

One can guess the place where a tortoise is from by taking a look at the color of its shells. Usually, a lighter color would mean that the tortoise is from a warmer area. Desert tortoises, which live in one of the hottest landscapes, will generally have shells with colors on the lighter side.

6. They live underground for the most part of their lives

As mentioned earlier, desert animals and plants need to find ways to escape the heat and reduce water loss. It is not a surprise that desert tortoises choose to stay underground for the most part of their lives. This helps them to keep cool and regulate their body temperatures.

7. Desert tortoises hibernate during winters

Tortoises generally do not live in places where the climate is extremely cold all year round. The same rule applies to desert tortoises. However, during winters, the temperatures in deserts can drop significantly which makes it difficult for the tortoises to live. Hence, during the winters, the desert tortoises hibernate.

8. They have an extension of the lower shell which can differentiate the gender

It can be very difficult to tell the gender of a tortoise. However, a close look at the anterior of the lower shell can tell you the gender of a desert tortoise. The males have a rounder extension whereas the females have a flatter one.

9. They can be practically invulnerable to predators

Desert tortoises are made tough to survive in the extreme conditions of the deserts. Their legs have scales in them and their shells are sturdy, big and doom shaped. This makes them practically invulnerable to predators. These help them survive in a harsh environment.

10. They are inactive most of the year

It is not exactly a surprise that desert tortoises cannot afford to be extremely active animals. Living in deserts means that they need to escape the extreme heat and reduce water loss to the greatest extent. Moving about a lot would lead to the consumption of energy and water, which is not the way an animal can survive in the deserts.

11. Females can give birth for up to 15 years after initial mating

Now, this is a fact to be included in an article that talks about desert tortoise facts for kids. However, this particular fact can also be a surprise to the adults. Needless to say, while writing, this fact managed to surprise me as well. Female desert tortoises are capable of giving birth up to 15 years after initial mating with a male.

Desert Tortoise Facts for Kids Video

If you like to consume information in video format, you can watch this video:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What do desert tortoises eat?

Desert tortoises are herbivores are have a varied diet which includes grasses, wildflowers, weeds, nutgrass, and many other things.

Do desert tortoises drink water?

Yes, desert tortoises do drink water. They can also store the water in the bladder and absorb it later for hydration.

Where do desert tortoises live?

As the name suggests, desert tortoises are mostly live in the burrows that they dig to escape the heat.

Do desert tortoises bite?

Generally calm animals by nature, desert tortoises can bite and the severity of the same will depend on the size of the tortoises.

Can you touch a desert tortoise?

No, it is unlawful to touch or collect desert tortoises.

That was it, folks! You have reached the end of the article ’11 Amazing Desert Tortoises Facts for Kids’. Hopefully, it was an educative and interesting read for you and your little one. And that you learned some new things about this interesting creature of the desert.

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  1. Your fact #11 states that Desert Tortoise females can give birth up to 15 years after initial mating. The explanation then says 15 months, which is correct? They also do not give “birth” which connotations a “live birth”, they lay eggs, which hatch.

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