Toby the California Desert Tortoise


Scientific Name: Gopherus agassizii

Status: Endangered

Toby's Story: In 2001, SWI adopted Toby from a Southern California turtle and tortoise rescue group. (This is the only way one can legally own one of these amazing animals.) Toby is registered with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife as indicated by a special sticker on the back of his shell. 

Facts: As the official reptile for California and Nevada, the Desert Tortoise is able to survive in extreme conditions. They inhabit semi-arid grasslands, desert washes, and sandy canyon bottoms where temperatures can reach over 130 degrees! Much of the tortoise’s water intake comes from their diet of grasses, wildflowers, and cactus. 

Range: Found in the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts of Southern California, Nevada and Utah. 

Conservation: People hiking or driving through the desert would often bring home a tortoise to keep as a pet. Sadly, this has reduced their numbers by about 90% since the 1950's. Presently, they are protected by law and it is illegal to even touch a wild tortoise because their primary means of defense is to urinate causing them to fatally dehydrate in their dry desert home. 

Thanks for learning about SWI's wildlife ambassadors.

Connect With Us