Monday, 20 December 2010

Huge African tortoise found in Arizona Desert

100-plus pound exotic tortoise discovered living in the desert

December 2010. An exotic African spurred tortoise weighing in excess of 100 pounds was discovered living in the Arizona Desert - it had been in the area long enough to establish two burrows, including one that was 9-feet deep.

"Finding an exotic tortoise this size inhabiting the Sonoran Desert is a reminder of how important it is not to release any exotic species into the wild," said Cristina Jones of the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Jones said exotic species such as this one could significantly harm native species, like the Sonoran desert tortoise, by spreading diseases into wild populations and out-competing them for available resources. "In addition, due to their immense size, while defending its territory an African spurred tortoise could easily injure a native desert tortoise."

Second tortoise

This is the second African spurred tortoise in the wild reported this year in Arizona. Game and Fish also often receives calls from people who find these large, exotic tortoises wandering neighbourhoods.

"When people purchase these tortoises they are about the size of a silver dollar, yet they can grow to more than 150 pounds," Jones said. "These exotic tortoises are long lived and because of their propensity to dig long, deep burrows, they can be extremely difficult to contain."

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