Tortoises at CBWCD

Do you know the difference between a tortoise and a turtle? Very simply: they are all reptiles, but tortoises are dry, turtles are wet. Tortoises are land dwellers, while turtles spend most of their adult lives in the water.

We have four tortoises in our Water Wise Demonstration Garden: one Sulcata tortoise and three desert tortoises. Come visit and say hello! Our tortoises love to come out and say hi, as long as it's warm enough!

Keep reading to learn more about them.

Sam


African Spurred Tortoise or Sulcata Tortoise (Geochelone sulcata)



Click here to download a Sam coloring sheet!
 
Sam is one of the District’s favorite attractions!  Though Sam was born in captivity, his family originates in Africa and is the third largest species of tortoise, behind the Galapagos tortoise and Aldabra tortoise.  Sam requires unique and special care and is suited best in large areas to roam and forage.  This type of tortoise is not for everybody.
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  • Size: Can reach 24-36 inches in length and weigh 100-200 lbs.
  • Life span: Can live from 50-100 yrs. (Be ready to include him in your will!)
  • Diet: The diet of a Sulcata tortoise is primarily grass; it is high in fiber and low in protein. Occasionally a treat of red leaf lettuce or other specific plants may be given. Supplemental calcium in powder form is essential for proper shell and skeletal development.
  • Water: Provided in a large shallow container for maximum health.
  • Care: Sam as well as others of his species must be housed and kept warm during cold weather. Sam’s house needs to stay between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Enclosure: All adult Sulcata tortoises should have a large and secured living space with outdoor space and sun. Provide shade where they can be out of the midday heat. Keep an eye out for burrowing, as they can escape by going under fences and footings.
Mr. Magoo, Dr. Brown, and Nurse Betty
Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii)

Mr. Magoo

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Dr. Brown

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Nurse Betty

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The desert tortoise is a species of tortoise native to the California desert biome. Gopherus agassizii is distributed in western Arizona, southeastern California, southern Nevada and southwestern Utah.
  • Size: Can reach 10-14 inches long, weigh 8-15 lbs; males slightly larger than females.
  • Life span: Up to 50-60 yrs.
  • Diet: The diet of a desert tortoise consists of a variety of foods including grasses and dark greens; essentially it is high in fiber and low in protein. Supplemental calcium in powder form is essential for proper shell and skeletal development. No pet food.
  • Water: Provided in a large shallow container for maximum health.
  • Enclosure: Desert tortoises should have a large and secured living space with outdoor space and sun. Provide shade where they can be out of the midday heat. Keep an eye out for burrowing, as they can escape by going under fences and footings.
  • Desert tortoises hibernate during the cold winter months.
  • The desert tortoise is the state reptile of California and Nevada.