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Wildlife Wednesday: Battlebots
We celebrate Tortoise Week with our favorite reptile
It’s Desert Tortoise Week! We celebrate our favorite charismatic mid-size reptile with a video Twentynine Palms resident MaryKay sent us of two males jousting near her home. (She assures us the loser survived the encounter.)
Our own two tortoises Wez and Gilderoy (10 points to Gryffindor if you know who he was named for; 100 points if you can ID Wez) have spent the last month trying to annihilate each other. Wez has climbed over the barrier between them, shoved it down, and dug under it to get at Gilderoy.
Now that it’s cooler, thankfully, all they want to do is snooze in the sun and eat desert willow flowers and nopales.
It’s an enormous treat to spot a tortoise on a desert walk or watch one amble by your house. This year, with abundant spring rain and the soaking we got from the hurricane, has been a very good year for wild tortoises, with plenty of flowers and greenery for them to eat. Ensuring habitat for these intriguing beasts is the reason we protect the desert.
They are very long-lived, even in the wild, because they spent most of their time sleeping, an idea some of us can get behind. If they survive ravens when they are hatchlings, they can live to be 80 years old, per the US Fish & Wildlife Service. The Marines have taken protecting tortoises very seriously—here’s a fairly recent report on their efforts to raise and release youngsters.
This week the park will host a Tortoise Table at the visitor center in 29, with talks at 7 pm on October 5 and 7 at campsite 40 in Indian Cove. Check out Gary Daigneault’s talk with park biologist Michael Vamstead to learn more about our local tortoises. U.S. Fish & Wildlife has an overview of tortoise events in the region; be sure to invite your favorite reptile. And check out Saving Slowpoke, which “spreads love and information about the Mojave desert tortoise.”
If you look closely, you can see a very young tortoise pooping.
Desert Trumpet writer Kat Talley-Jones is a member of the Public Arts Advisory Committee, which is a part of the City of Twentynine Palms.
Please share your Twentynine Palms wildlife photos and videos, and we’ll try to include it in an upcoming feature. Share your thoughts in the comments below or in our live chat in the Substack app. Please note that we do not allow anonymous comments. Be sure your name is on your profile prior to commenting. Anonymous comments will be deleted.
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