Desert Tortoise Activity

The desert tortoise has been on the earth for 15 to 20 million years. Tortoises have learned how to live in extreme environments, like the hot desert, over time. They can survive one year without drinking water! Tortoises eat grasses, wildflowers, cactus pads, and wild fruit. These plants have water in them which helps the tortoise survive. To avoid the hot sun, the desert tortoise dig burrows, which can be 3-4 feet in length. It is important that when you see a desert tortoise, you don’t touch it.

Watch this video from our wildlife biologist. It will go over some more information about the desert tortoise.

A desert tortoise walking on the ground
The desert tortoise spends about 95% of its life underground.

Photo: NPS / Brad Sutton

After watching this video please answer the following questions on a sheet of paper.

  1. You can help the desert tortoise and other wild animals by giving them plenty of space. What is another thing you should do —or not do—when you see a wild animal?

  1. What challenges does the desert tortoise face?

  1. Are there any threatened or endangered species that live near you?

Part of a series of articles titled Joshua Tree Virtual Junior Ranger Program.

Joshua Tree National Park

Last updated: August 1, 2020