Desert Tortoise

Tortoises are any of the land-dwelling turtles of the family Testudinidae. The Desert Tortoise is one of four species of the genus Gopherus, known collectively as gopher tortoises. Gopher tortoises are characterized by brown shells 8-15 inches long with flattened front limbs adapted for burrowing. This tortoise was found by me as I was driving towards the Kelso Dunes laying upside down and dying on the side of the busy freeway. With a small crack to the rear of his shell, I believe he had been clipped by a vehicle and flipped upside down. There was no obvious damage to his body, head or legs. I would like to think he will live for many more years.
Ironically, I spole with a Ranger in Kelso who told me that seeing these tortoises now is extremely rare and that he had not seen one for nearly 5 months.
The Desert Tortoise is an herbivore that may attain a length of 9 to 15 inches in upper shell (carapace) length. The tortoise is able to live where ground temperatures may exceed 140 degrees F, because of its ability to dig underground burrows and escape the heat. At least 95% of its life is spent in burrows. There, it is also protected from freezing while dormant, November through February or March. (Info from DesertUSA)

Desert Tortoise