California Desert Tortoises

Landscape & Garden Resources

Our California Desert Tortoises are outside in The Garden
from spring through fall (they are brumating during winter months)

California Desert Tortoises, a threatened wildlife species, are cold-blooded so they don’t exactly hibernate–they brumate. That’s a period of dormancy when they save calories by being inactive. With the warming days of Spring, our boys are back out and about and can’t wait to meet you! Drop by their exhibit the next time you are in The Garden. It’s right across from the gift shop.


Tank is our oldest gentleman.

He is approximately 20 – 25 years old.

He likes long walks in the desert, cool, snug places to
rest, and prefers bok choy over cabbage!


Desert tortoises can live to be as old as 60 – 80 years or more. They tend to grow faster in captivity than in the wild because they get regular feeding times with plenty of food and have reliable shelter and protection.

So how old is Tank exactly? Well, it’s impossible to determine the exact age of an adult tortoise, unless you have raised them from an egg. You have to know their birthday!


Bernie is approximately 20 years old and his nickname precedes him; “Bad News Bernie.”

He deems himself the “Houdini” of the “creep” (what a group of tortoises is called).

He definitely keeps us on our toes!


Desert tortoises like to eat, and they like to eat a lot. They enjoy a variety of foods, especially leafy, green vegetation. They also enjoy many flower blossoms for special treats, like rose petals, nasturtium and hibiscus flowers. Desert tortoises are natural “weed whackers” and are known to even eat dandelions.

You don’t have to pull as many weeds when you have a desert tortoise as a friend.


Mr. Peabody is the youngest at approximately 10 years of age.

He loves to play “Hide and Seek” by camouflaging himself in the landscape.

He likes to sleep in and take his time waking up!


Desert tortoises start to slow down all activity when the days begin to cool down, around late October or early November. They will start to eat less and bask in the sunlight less. That’s how you know it’s brumation time.

Then, around March or April, when the days start to warm up again, they start getting hungry and are ready to play in the sun. They can be really hungry when they first come out of brumation, so we make sure they have plenty to eat right away.

This exhibit was made possible by a generous donation from Jean Immenshuh.

Please consider making a donation for the care and feeding of our boys,
who are listed as a local threatened wildlife species.

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