Too Many Tortoises, Not Enough Homes
Are You Interested In Sharing Your Yard With One?
April 15, 2015
Are you fascinated by reptiles? Do you have a yard big enough for a dog, but no time to take one for daily walks? Is someone in your family allergic to pets with fur or feathers? If so, consider adopting a desert tortoise through the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
"We cannot stress enough how detrimental removing tortoises from the wild and backyard breeding are to the species," said Tegan Wolf, Arizona Game and Fish's tortoise adoption program specialist. "This iconic desert species has become overpopulated in captivity and there aren't enough homes for them."
Enclosure requirements include an enclosed area of the yard free from potential hazards, such as a dog or pool. The enclosed area must include a burrow for the tortoise to escape Arizona's extreme temperatures.
Those interested in sharing their yard with a tortoise should visit http://www.azgfd.gov/tortoise for more information on feeding, caring for, and creating a habitat for a tortoise. A desert tortoise adoption packet, which includes the adoption application and checklist, can also be downloaded at this site.
If you are interested in adopting a tortoise in the Tucson area, contact the state-sanctioned adoption facility Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum at (520) 883-3062. Adoption events will also be held in Yuma on April 18 and at the Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary on May 2.
Desert tortoises are native to the southwestern desert and can live up to 100 years. They grow to be about 15 pounds and hibernate in the winter months. Desert tortoises eat plant material, including grasses and wildflowers.
Once captive, desert tortoises cannot be released back into the wild as captive animals can pass an upper respiratory disease to wild tortoise populations. It is also illegal and harmful to desert tortoise populations to collect tortoises from the wild.