Thank you for visiting the home blog of Caliso Learning, a natural science-based business celebrating the beauty and ecology of our natural environments. Our goal is to connect you and your family with nature--actually, we want you to fall in LOVE with nature!

Here you will find nature-inspired articles and posts, family activities, personal stories, resources, and more--all with the goal to connect you with the benefits of nature for family fun and inspiration! Please enjoy and let us know what you like :) Follow us on Facebook for even more resources, more frequently!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Meet Taco, the Desert Tortoise!

It’s nearing the end of February, which means our desert tortoises (Taco, Rufus, and Guacamole) are expected to come out of hibernation any time now. Here in the southern California desert, we experienced a cooler winter this year, but spring is beginning to nudge its way in with recent warm spells over the last few weeks, alternating with cooler temperatures (meaning down in the 70’s/low 40’s for our day/night time highs).

Rufus and Guacamole are 8 year old sibling desert tortoises adopted in 2005. They have each stepped in for Taco a few times for public talks and programs.

Taco is Caliso Learning's own ambassador. He is a lifelong resident of the Coachella Valley, hatched in captivity in La Quinta, CA. During his 33 years, he has visited thousands of students and adults to teach the importance of habitat conservation and species protection, as well as animal adaptation to the desert environment, and the handling and care of non-releasable desert tortoises. You could say Taco is a tortoise of action as he’s helped spread these important messages in the trenches by: visiting classrooms, libraries, youth centers, museums, and even through a personal interview for the Los Angeles Times. All this work has kept Taco busy, but he still finds time for hibernation. His best advice: "Slow down in life. Take the time to stop and smell the flowers. Then eat them."

*     *     *
True to their scientific name--Gopherus agassizii, gopherus meaning "burrower"--Taco, Rufus, and Guacamole typically hibernate on their own in winter burrows they’ve dugged themselves by extending their existing burrows even deeper. However this year, Rufus and Guacamole are spending the second half of their hibernation in a pet carrier in a non-insulated room, due to the threat of flooding from this season’s storms. Taco’s yard and burrow were not threatened by flooding. The three typically enter hibernation in early October and emerge for spring (often mid-February); Taco usually wakes up a good three weeks after Rufus and Guacs have come out. But no one has become active yet!

Any guesses on when these hardy desert critters will emege from their burrows in search of their favorite spring meal (wildflowers) and a looong drink of water?


  1. I'm going with March 17 :)

  2. Nancy says March 11....
    Laura says March 33....

  3. LOL "March 33" hmmmm....this is so you Pownkies :) Interesting guesses, FYI both March 11th and 17th are "wake up" dates from previous years, for Taco!

  4. Oh dear...we never came back to post when they emerged! Well our spring started milder than usual so they actually came out of hibernation later than previous years:

    Taco - emerged March 30
    Guacamole - started stirring March 20
    Rufus - started stirring March 20
    (The "little" guys share a crate, but Rufus is usually the one that get Guacamole going...)