Arizona wildlife officials seeking forever homes for 200 tortoises

Jul 6, 2022, 4:35 AM

A desert tortoise with radio transmitters installed on his back. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times vi...

A desert tortoise with radio transmitters installed on his back. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department has 200 captive tortoises available for adoption primarily due to illegal breeding.

Captive tortoises cannot be released back into the wild at risk of disease, so AZGFD is seeking homes for the reptiles.

“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 AZGFD, said in a statement.

The tortoises can grow to 14 inches long and live from 80-100 years.

AZGFD allows one tortoise to be adopted per person, per household, with an exception being if an owner can house multiple tortoise of the same sex in different enclosures.

It is illegal to breed them in captivity and to remove the reptiles from 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 that tortoises are not only placed in proper homes, but with responsible owners.”

Interested adopters are required to build an enclosure and burrow before applying.

They must have a securely enclosed yard or construct a separate enclosure to shield the tortoise from hazards like other pets or pools. Tortoises also need shelter like a burrow for the heat and to brumate, a period when tortoises are inactive during the winter.

Desert tortoises are only available to Arizona residents under state law and cannot be transported to another state.

Tortoises, like most reptiles, can carry Salmonella, and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration cautions pet owners to keep reptiles from roaming the house freely, wash hands thoroughly after touching a reptile and do not use kitchen sink to clean items from a reptile’s enclosure.

Those interested in a desert tortoise pet can find more information about AZGFD’s Tortoise Adoption Program online.

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Arizona wildlife officials seeking forever homes for 200 tortoises