Arizona wildlife officials seek forever homes for over 100 desert tortoises
PHOENIX — Looking for a pet that is more unique than a furry friend?
More than 100 rescued Sonoran desert tortoises of various ages and sizes are up for adoption through the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
The tortoises are primarily a product of illegal breeding and cannot be released back into the wild, due to potential spread of disease that could harm wild populations.
“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,” Tegan Wolf, desert tortoise adoption program coordinator for the department, said in a press release.
“They offer many of the same life lessons to children, and they can provide just as much companionship and personality as a dog or cat.”
Captive tortoises grow up to about 14 inches long and can live upward of 100 years, according to Game and Fish.
Potential adopters are advised to review the Tortoise Adoption Program page on the department’s website before submitting an online application.
Adopters must have a securely enclosed yard and construct a separate enclosure/burrow to protect the tortoise from potential hazards, such as a fire pit, unfenced pool or dogs, as well as a shelter from extreme heat during the summer.
Game and Fish staff will also hold a free virtual tortoise adoption information session via Zoom at 6:30 p.m. on March 10 for anyone interested in adopting.
It is both illegal to remove Sonoran desert tortoises from the wild and to allow them to breed in captivity, the department said.
Game and Fish allows for one tortoise to be adopted per person, per household. However, an additional tortoise of the same sex can be adopted if it is placed in a completely separate enclosure.
“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 that tortoises are not only placed in proper homes, but with responsible owners.”