Tucson AZ Home Loan Info


Arizona Wildlife: The Desert Tortoise

Desert Tortoise: Mike in Tucson

The humble Desert Tortoise may not be fast, but he's consistent!  There's a business lesson to be learned there.  The tortoise will live for up to 80 years in the sometimes brutal desert environment.

Jackrabbit: Mike in The jackrabbit gets more press, can leap as much as 10' in a single bound, and is much flashier. It's life expectancy in that same desert environment is five years or less.


The curved projections under the chin are called Gular Horns.  Both male and female have them.  They will be longer and more curved on the male desert tortoise.

Gular Horns on the Desert Tortoise: Mike in Tucson


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Comment balloon 32 commentsMike Jones • August 03 2010 11:42AM


A Desert Tortoise? I have always been under the impression that a tortoise had to be near water! So the tortoise actually DOES win the race ... by about 75 years!

Posted by Cynthia Larsen, Independent Broker In Sonoma County, CA over 10 years ago


Not these denizens of the desert!  They live in burrows they dig with those massive forelimbs, and come out to feed when the rains come.  Thanks for being the first to comment.

Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) over 10 years ago

Fantastic.  It appears that once you appear with your camera, these neighbors come out to have their picture taken. 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 10 years ago

HI Mike - wow these are fantastic photographs, really good of the tortoise. Slow and consistent is good!

Posted by Sharon Paxson, Newport Beach Real Estate (Compass) over 10 years ago

Nice photos. Nice post too.

Posted by Teresa Boardman (Boardman Realty) over 10 years ago

You are really going to town with your photography.  Love the one on top with to mountain in the background.  

Check the video of the tortoise/turtles on my fb page...  

Posted by Doreen McPherson, Phoenix Arizona Real Estate ~ (Homesmart ~ Scottsdale ~ Tempe) over 10 years ago

Like the perspective of the top photo... 

Posted by Doreen McPherson, Phoenix Arizona Real Estate ~ (Homesmart ~ Scottsdale ~ Tempe) over 10 years ago

Hi Mike:

Good article and I love the pictures.  As a fellow desert dweller, I appreciate both the desert tortoise and the jackrabbit but your point is well taken!

Posted by Carla Morin (Brookfield) over 10 years ago

Great photos -- love turtles like that here in the desert -- they are nice creatures.

Posted by Bob & Carolin Benjamin, East Phoenix Arizona Homes (Benjamin Realty LLC) over 10 years ago

Hi Mike -- Wow, 80 years, that's amazing.  How big are these things?  Exceptional photos.

Posted by Chris Olsen, Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate (Olsen Ziegler Realty) over 10 years ago

Hi Mike,  Wow, these are some great pics.  And a little biology lesson thrown in for good measure !

Posted by Bill Gillhespy, Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos (16 Sunview Blvd) over 10 years ago

Very creative, very different from the thick swap-air I'm breathing around here in Houston. I love the view of the mountains! Thanks for the lesson!

Posted by Amy Law (Alliance Properties) over 10 years ago

Great photos - I'm used to our little white bunnies running around - the desert hare has those HUGE ears!

Posted by Margaret Goss, Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate (Baird & Warner Real Estate) over 10 years ago

I lived in Arizona and never saw any tortoises.  I did see a ton of jackrabbits.

Posted by Randy L. Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 10 years ago

One of my most favorite Aesop's Fables, Mike. Great message.

Posted by Karen Cooper, Helping Homeowners w/Home Loans in 27 US States (Karen Cooper | Sr Retail Loan Originator ! NMLS # 223305 | 360 Mortgage Group LLC Austin Texas) over 10 years ago


Mine too.  Thanks for commenting.


They spend 95% of their time in their burrows underground.  I've seen four in 11 years.


Right you are; jackrabbits are actually hares.  They have burrows, not nests.  Good eating, too...


I hear you on the "swamp air."  My sister in law lives in League City.


I started out life planning to be a teacher, and never quite got away from it.


They get the size of a large dinner plate, and can weigh up to 15 pounds.

Carolin & Bob,

That they are!


I enjoy 'em all.  Thanks for stopping by.


You'll recognize the west face of Baboquivari there on the right.  I was driving with a friend who is 87 years old.  We were going down a dirt road when I saw the tortoise, stopped the car, and laid down on the dirt in front of it.  The tortoise pulled into his shell, and I just waited...  My friend, whose name is Dean, thought it was the funniest thing he'd seen in a long time.


Thanks for stopping by to comment.  Sorry to hear about your scuffle with the Rain Gods.


That it is!


It took him awhile to get friendly, but I outwaited him.  See my comment to Doreen above.

Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) over 10 years ago

Hi Mike,

Our family has two desert tortoises; one is twenty years old raised from birth, the other is approximately 30-40 yrs old.  Both are males so we have to separate them or else they fight and try to flip the other one over, a position they cannot recover from.

They're pretty low maintenance and hybernate half of the year...my kind of pet.

BTW...they are "Shredder" (from the Ninja Turtles era) and "Michael Jordan" because of his ability to slam dunk on the b-ball court....just kidding about the slam dunk.

Posted by John Alesi, (Orange County California Real Estate) (Century 21 Award) over 10 years ago


That's pretty cool! Since they cal live to 100 in captivity, both will outlive you and me.  I googled "captive desert tortoise," and found the following to share with would-be custodians of the animals:

Per Arizona Game and Fish Commission Rule R12-4-407 A.1, "An individual may possess, transport, or give away a desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) without a special license if that individual possessed it before April 28, 1989. An individual who possessed a desert tortoise before this date may propagate it, and hold offspring in captivity for 24 months from the date of hatching. The individual shall dispose of the offspring of desert tortoises before or at the end of the 24 months by giving them as a gift or as directed in writing by the Department. An individual who receives a desert tortoise that is given away under this Section is also exempt from the special license requirements. An individual shall not export a desert tortoise from this state unless authorized in writing by the Department."


Thanks!  You probably already knew what "Gular horns" are.  :)

Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) over 10 years ago

Howdy and evening to you Mike in Tucson

I sure do like the wildlife photo you took and posted here. I have not gotten to see any kind of rabbits, since I moved to this area of the County.

Have a good one
Dale in New Hampshire

Posted by Dale Baker, New Hampshire Relocation Real Estate Information (Baker Energy Audits and Commercial Properties Inspections) over 10 years ago

haha!  I knew the camera was on the ground, I was wondering about you...  Hope it wasn't too hot.

Posted by Doreen McPherson, Phoenix Arizona Real Estate ~ (Homesmart ~ Scottsdale ~ Tempe) over 10 years ago

Hey Mike,

DO you know how much of a fine it is if you touch or move a desert tortise. I took a class when drilling in the desert and it cost 10,000 dollars if caught.  Thats a lot of money. Great pictures though.

Posted by Michael Schneider over 10 years ago

And off he goes...  Mike in TucsonMichael,

I didn't move the tortoise.  He was crossing the dirt road when I saw him and stopped my vehicle.  When I approached, he withdrew into his shell.  I just waited until he came out, and took his photo.  ...and off he went!  Thanks for stopping by to comment.


It wasn't uncomfortable.


You really need to come visit!

Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) over 10 years ago

Great capture and great post!

Posted by Rosalind Boyle, Virtual Tidewater (Virtual Tidewater) over 10 years ago

Mike, really like the photos of the desert and the wildlilfe.

Posted by Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®, Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate over 10 years ago

Great photos Mike!  Congratulations on the feature too.  Makes a good metaphor for placing yourself in a position to see things from other people's perspectives as well.

Posted by Kent Simpson, Real Estate Is About People (Realty One Group Mountain Desert) over 10 years ago

Mike - these are really great photos of wildlife that I would otherwise never see! thanks!

Posted by Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor (Charles Rutenberg Realty) over 10 years ago

Guess what was in my yard a couple of hours ago...a desert tortoise!  Abouy 6" long and cute as heck!  Walked right up to me, hung out for a while, then headed down the hill...photos to be posted soon!

Posted by Dawn Heinemann, The Peter DeLuca Team (Long Realty Company) over 10 years ago

I had no idea there were tortoises in the desert-very interesting post!

Posted by Debbie Walsh, Hudson Valley NY Real Estate 845.283-3036 (Shahar Management) over 10 years ago

Mike, I've never had the luck of seeing one out in the desert, just in people's yards.  I thank those who are helping to protect this guy. 

Posted by Juli Vosmik, Scottsdale/Cave Creek, AZ real estate 480-710-0739 (Dominion Fine Properties) over 10 years ago

What a cool post...We have two ourselves, but shhhhhh, don't tell anyone...!

Posted by Bob Hertzog, Designated Broker (Summit Home Consultants) over 10 years ago


I won't tell...


Their population has been adversely affected by development, but out on BLM land you'll find them.


Don't we live in an interesting world?!


I'll be over to check out your photos!  Thanks for stopping by.

Barbara Jo,

You're welcome!  Come visit us.


Thanks, my friend!


I'm glad!



Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) over 10 years ago

I use Send out Cards to follow up with my prospects and Clients it is easy to do direct from my computer. A really card in the mail make an impression and many times I send brownies or Almonds with the card.

Posted by Mike Crosby, Placentia- Yorba Linda Real Estate - 714-742-2897 (Mike Crosby Realty) over 7 years ago

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