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Arizona Game and Fish seeking good homes for captive desert tortoises

(Arizona Game and Fish Department Photo)

PHOENIX – They may not be as cuddly as a dog or cat, but desert tortoises could be the ideal Arizona pets.

If you’re looking for a durable companion that’s native to the state, the Arizona Game and Fish Department has dozens of captive desert tortoises available for adoption.

“Many people don’t even consider opening up their homes to desert tortoises, but they make fantastic and personable pets,” Tegan Wolf, coordinator of the agency’s Tortoise Adoption Program, said Thursday in a press release.

Most of the adoptable tortoises were illegally bred and can’t be released into the wild because they could spread diseases.

The available reptiles vary in size and age and can grow up to 14 inches long.

Adopting one would require a long-term commitment, because they can live 80-100 years.

“It’s rewarding to hear stories from those who have adopted a captive tortoise and made them part of the family because they’re a unique alternative to traditional family pets,” Wolf said.

“They offer many of the same life lessons to children and can provide just as much companionship and personality as a dog or cat.”

To be approved, adopters must be Arizona residents and have a secure yard or construct an enclosure or burrow to protect the tortoise from potential hazards.

The tortoise’s living space must also provide shelter from the summer heat as well as a safe area for it to chill in the winter during a seasonal hibernation-like state called brumation.

It’s illegal to breed captive desert tortoises or release them into the wild.

“One female tortoise living to 80 years old can produce more than 800 babies in her lifetime,” Wolf said. “This is why it is crucial that we work together to ensure tortoises are not only placed in proper homes, but with responsible owners.”

Potential adopters can find information about tortoise care and fill out an application at the program’s website.

Arizona open and hiring: If you’re looking for job openings, visit

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