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 to the right, 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.
Originally published in the Tortuga Gazette 29(7): 7,
TEXAS TORTOISE Gopherus berlandieri
DESERT TORTOISE Gopherus agassizii
Front of head wedge-shaped.
Front of head rounded.
Length to 8.5 inches
or 215 mm.
Length to 13.2 inches
or 337 mm.
Often paired axillary scutes generally triangular in shape or pointed below.
Single axillary scute generally triangular in shape or at least pointed below.