Mojave Desert Tortoise – Shelly

Name: Shelly – Female

Species: Mojave Desert Tortoise

Liberty Arrival: 2009/Adult

Injury/Condition: Imprint

Shelly, a Mohave tortoise, was left on a patio and abandoned. Luckily, she was discovered and brought to Liberty on September 8, 2009. She had “Happy 25th Birthday” written on her carapace but had no other injury. It was assumed she had been taken out of the wild and kept in an area with no food or water. A recent checkup revealed she has a large bladder stone. She had to have surgery in 2018 to remove the stone. Her length of time in captivity precludes her from being released into the wild. Visitors can compare her carapace to the Sonoran tortoises in the nearby enclosures.

Mojave Desert Tortoise Facts:

Description: The Mojave Desert Tortoise is one of two native species of desert tortoise in Arizona. The other species is the Sonoran. Not to be confused with turtles, these tortoises are larger-bodied animals. They have short, broad, and club-shaped legs to help them move over desert terrain as compared to turtles that swim in water. They are able to withstand desert heat and periods of drought.

Habitat: The Mojave Desert Tortoise is found only in the Mojave Desert.

Range: Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah (North and west of the Colorado River). This Desert Tortoise is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, due to habitat loss.

Life span: Tortoises can live 50 – 100 years.

Prey: Tortoises are mostly herbivorous, but occasionally eat invertebrates and carrion.

Nests: Breeding begins after the onset of the monsoon season, when eggs are laid near or inside a burrow.

Babies: Tortoises lay 3 – 12 soft-shelled eggs in a clutch. The eggs hatch somewhere between 70 – 120 days depending on the ambient temperature. Hatchlings break out of the shell using an egg tooth. Desert tortoises do not reach full maturity until 15 – 20 years.