The native desert tortoise is the most common Gopherus tortoise found in captivity in California, but the smaller Texas tortoise, once imported in large numbers for the pet trade, is still fairly common in captivity here. The diagrams, taken from the article "Tortoise ID" by A. H. Brame and D. J. Peerson in the September/October 1969 issue of the International Turtle and Tortoise Society Journal, illustrate the major obvious differences between the two species. Note the carapace shapes. Generally, the Texas tortoise has a rougher and broader or more squared-off carapace than does the desert tortoise.

Gopherus berlandieri

Gopherus agassizii

Gopherus berlandieri head

Front of head wedge-shaped.

Gopherus agassizii head

Front of head rounded.

Goperhus berlandieri carapace

Length to 8.5 inches or 215 mm.

Gopherus agassizii carapace

Length to 13.2 inches or 337 millimeters.

Gopherus berlandieri plastron

Often paired axillary scutes generally triangular in shape or pointed below.

Gopherus agassizii plastron

Single axillary scute generally triangular in shape or at least pointed below.

Originally published in the Tortuga Gazette 29(7): 7, November 1992

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