Construction on roads in Tucson Mountain District may cause delays up to 30 mins
Starting February 3rd, work will begin to improve safety features along Picture Rocks Road, Sandario Road and Kinney Road. Work may cause delays up to 30 minutes and the work is scheduled to continue into March. More »
Faxing Backcountry Permits
Due to fax machine issues, please fax backcountry permits to this alternate number until further notice: (520) 733-5183. Any faxes sent after Thursday March 6, please resend. More »
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?
Saguaro National Park is more than just a desert park. In fact, the highest point in the eastern district is Mica Mountain at 8,666 ft. There you will find a dense forest of Ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, alligator-bark juniper, and aspen.