Southern Utah is home to a beautiful and endangered creature, the Desert Tortoise.  

In fact, the area even has some designated places that protect the creatures like the Red Cliff Desert Reserve. Desert Tortoises are known to be burrowers so sightings may be rare. According to the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve website, these little guys spend 90% of their lives underground or beneath rocky structures.  

The Desert Tortoise is also a vegetarian so if you do see one, they’ll most likely be munching on some sort of desert flower or fruit.  

Since it's mating season for these tortoises, you may see more of them. From April to October is mating season with the babies appearing toward the end of Summer.  

The Desert Tortoise has been protected by the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve since 1996 when the species was listed as federally threatened.  

What to do if you spot a Desert Tortoise in Utah: 

Since these are federally protected, please keep your distance and don’t disturb them if you find them while you’re out hiking in the beautiful Utah desert. If you see one in danger, like crossing a busy road, do your best to put it in a safe location. 

The Red Cliffs Desert Reserve recommends keeping the tortoise close to the ground in the direction it was heading and if there is a fence, putting it over that.  

When the babies come, it may be tempting to take these adorable creatures and make them a pet. Don’t do it because not only is it illegal, but it can impact the ecosystem in a negative way.  


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