Abstract

Little is known regarding the activity of desert tortoises during winter, especially for the Sonoran Desert Tortoise (Gopherus morafkai). We observed adult, juvenile, and hatchling G. morafkai active during November, December, January, and February at 3 field sites in upland Sonoran Desert in central Arizona. At 1 site all individuals under observation (n  =  36), including males, females, and hatchlings, emerged from hibernacula to drink during the first heavy (> 20 mm) rainfall event (December); at all 3 sites, females were observed active (basking, foraging) during winter much more frequently than were males.

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