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    National Park Arizona

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  • Tucson Mountain District Roads Closed Due to Flash Flooding

    Several interior roads, including the scenic loop, are closed in Tucson Mountain District (west) due to severe storms and flash flooding on August 26th. Roads will remain closed until further notice. Check the park's facebook page for updated information More »

  • Labor Day Run - Rincon Mountain District Road Closure - Sept. 1st

    Due to the Annual Labor Day Run, Saguaro National Park's Rincon Mountain District Loop Drive will be closed from 4:00am to approx 10:30am on Sept. 1, 2014. Please be advised of vehicle congestion along roadsides when approaching the park during this time. More »

Desert Tortoise

desert tortoise

Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii)

The desert tortoise is a long-lived, slow growing tortoise and is estimated to live from 50 to possibly 100 years! They are common, yet often unseen at Saguaro National Park. The majority of their long lives is spent in burrows where they escape the cold winter temperatures and extreme summer heat.

Desert tortoises are well adapted to arid conditions and conserve water in several ways. They have thick skin to prevent water loss, and they excrete dry uric acid instead of urine. Also, tortoises can store water in their large urinary bladders. This stored water can be used in self defense if necessary. It is apparantly distasteful to predators, and when frightened, the tortoise may suddenly empty its bladder. However, this defense can be costly in times of drought, and the tortoise could die of dehydration if it can not replace the fluids. For more information about desert tortoises at Saguaro National Park, including tortoise research go to www.nps.gov/research/deserttortoise.htm

Shell length: 8 - 15 in (20.3 - 38.1 cm)

Diet: Grasses, leafy plants, cactus fruit

Did You Know?

Fairy Duster

March and April are the best months to view wildflowers in the Sonoran Desert. Popular flowers include the Mexican golden poppy, the Arizona penstemon, and the Fairy duster.