Desert Tortoise Hatchling Check-up

Desert Tortoises at 5 months old

We are approaching the five-month birthday of our four Desert Tortoise hatchlings on February 22, 2022. You may remember that we were surprised by the September discovery of three little tortoises resting among the adults. They had dug themselves out of the nest that Bridget, their mother, had created 90-120 days earlier. Then, 18 days later, a fourth hatchling was found.

Autumn, Pumpkin, Maple and Boo have been exploring new homes, munching on LOTS of fresh food and growing like crazy in the last six months. They have more than tripled in size! At hatch, they weighed an average of 25g. Now Autumn is the largest at 94g and Pumpkin is the smallest at 76g.

While the little tortoises seem to be growing quickly, everything about a tortoise is still slow. It will take 5-8 years for their shell to harden (ossify). In the wild, this would leave young tortoises vulnerable to roadrunners, bobcats, coyotes, ravens and other predators. Desert Tortoises are known to live 50-100 years and continue to grow in small increments throughout their entire life. ZooAmerica is home to 10 Desert Tortoises that range in age from 6 months – 73 years.