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Welcoming Peavine Pete! A Habitat Conservation Ambassador in Northern Nevada


Nevada is home to a unique and resilient species, the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii). As we welcome our newest member, Peavine Pete, to the Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation, we wanted to take the time this week to talk a bit about the fascinating world of these ancient and remarkable creatures and introduce everyone officially to Peavine Pete.

The Desert Tortoise, Gopherus agassizii, is an iconic reptile native to the arid regions of the southwestern United States. With their distinct high-domed carapace, they are perfectly adapted to endure the challenges of their harsh desert environment. The desert tortoise plays a vital role in maintaining the delicate balance of their ecosystems, showcasing the intricate connections between flora and fauna.

These tortoises are experts in water conservation, capable of storing water in their bladders and minimizing water loss through efficient kidney function. Their primarily herbivorous diet includes a variety of desert plants, making them essential for seed dispersal and contributing to the rich biodiversity of their habitats.

As many of you already know, we extended a warm welcome to our new tortoise resident at the Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation earlier this year; the charismatic Peavine Pete. While most of his diet consists of appropriate reptile food or native plants, his current favorite foods are pumpkin and bok choy. He has settled in nicely to his accommodations at Rosewood Nature Study Area. We are excited to watch him thrive and contribute to educational initiatives that promote awareness about their species and habitat loss in Nevada.

So far Peavine Pete has helped us with our annual Platemonium event, Giving Tuesday and Winter Appeal campaigns and the Desert Tortoise Week initiative. He took a brief hiatus due to a respiratory infection but is now fully recovered, thanks to the expert care provided by the dedicated team at Pinion Veterinary Hospital. He will be skipping his brumation this year as a precaution but has an amazing new indoor enclosure at Rosewood Nature Study Area. His all new indoor enclosure is a modified raised garden bed that was purchased from Greenhouse Megastore and features live plants like globemallow, penstemon, fernbush, and bluebunch wheatgrass. It also has a burrow and a lot of different mounds and elevations in it to climb on and some place to hide behind. It also features a wired top so all visitors, even small children can see him when he's active.

This outreach initiative wouldn't have been possible without the unwavering support of the folks at Northern Nevada Tortoise Group and the Tortoise Group. The Tortoise Group plays a crucial role in tortoise conservation efforts in Nevada, working tirelessly to educate the community about the importance of coexisting with these incredible reptiles and the impact of backyard breeding of these animals.

Desert tortoises, classified as a threatened species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and Nevada Administrative Code, face significant challenges to their survival due to habitat loss and various human activities such as poaching and vehicular impact. Collection of wild desert tortoises is strictly prohibited without permits from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Nevada Department of Wildlife. As pets, all desert tortoises in Nevada, whether acquired through adoption programs or born in captivity before August 1989, are considered wildlife and require responsible custodianship. Owners must ensure secure outdoor environments, regular veterinary check-ups, and refrain from breeding, as the proliferation of pet tortoises can harm wild populations. Tortoise Group, operating in southern Nevada, offers support and guidance for proper tortoise care, emphasizing the importance of responsible ownership to mitigate the strain on wildlife agencies managing unwanted or stray pet desert tortoises. Peavine Pete was adopted through the Northern Nevada Tortoise Group.

We invite the community to continue following Pete and supporting us in this journey of discovery and appreciation for the desert tortoise. Whether you're a seasoned tortoise enthusiast or just beginning to explore the wonders of these incredible reptiles, there's always something new to learn and experience.


As Peavine Pete resumes his "in-office" duties, we look forward to the positive impact he will have on our community. For ongoing Pete news, you can follow us on Facebook and Instagram or, even, Threads and X.

Plus, you can visit Pete all winter long at Rosewood Nature Study Area at 6800 Pembroke Dr, Reno, NV 89502.


Thank you to everyone involved in making this venture a reality. Together, let's celebrate the diversity of Northern Nevada's ecosystems and the enduring spirit of the desert tortoise.


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Dec 20, 2023
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