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Get Your Yards Ready To Adopt A New Pet

In early September, over 40 desert tortoises will be available to pre-approved homes.


September 1, 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. The department's Tortoise Adoption Program has over 40 tortoises to adopt out to homes in the Phoenix, Yuma and Prescott areas prior to the animals' going into hibernation this fall.

Desert tortoises will be available to pre-approved families at an event in early September and thereafter until Oct. 1 by appointment. To be pre-approved, those interested must submit a completed application and checklist, and provide photos of their yard and shelter.

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 shelter and shade for the tortoise to escape Arizona's extreme temperatures.

Those interested in sharing their yard with a tortoise should visit for more information on feeding, caring for, and creating a suitable enclosure. A desert tortoise adoption packet, which includes the adoption application and checklist, can also be downloaded at this site.

Desert Tortoise

"Primarily because of excessive backyard breeding, this iconic desert species has become overpopulated in captivity and there aren't enough homes for them." said Tegan Wolf, Arizona Game and Fish's tortoise adoption program specialist.

If you are interested in adopting a desert tortoise and live in the Tucson area, contact the department-sanctioned adoption facility Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum at

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.


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