Only a little bit larger than a Kennedy half dollar, the hatchling desert tortoises (seen in the video above) are a fan favorite at the Valley Chapter show. The Mojave desert tortoise is the state reptile of both California and Nevada. Its conservation status was upgraded to "critically endangered" by the Turtle Conservation Coalition in their 2018 publication, Turtles in Trouble: The World’s 25+ Most Endangered Tortoises and Fresh-water Turtles. And indeed from the 1980s to the present, Mojave desert tortoise population in the wild has dropped by 90%. They have been protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act since 1990. As a result, there are many laws associated with keeping them as pets. One such, is that it is illegal to take a wild desert tortoise out of the desert or to put a captive desert tortoise back into the desert. Another is that it is illegal for captive desert tortoises to breed. This notwithstanding, a female desert tortoise can continue to lay fertile eggs for up to seven years after mating. So captive-born hatchlings are often surrendered to the CTTC. The Valley Chapter raises these babies for at least six months before adopting them out.
You can download a free, e-book version of Turtles in Trouble from ResearchGate.
Or learn more about adoption at the CTTC website.