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Need a pet? Sonoran desert tortoises up for adoption in Arizona

Tortoise adoption in Arizona
Posted at 6:07 AM, Mar 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-03 08:07:56-05

Arizona Game and Fish Department has more than 100 Sonoran desert tortoises looking for forever homes.

AZGFD officials say due to primarily to illegal breeding, the department has several tortoises of various ages and sizes available for adoption.

“Many people don’t even consider opening up their homes to desert tortoises, but they make fantastic and personable pets,” said Tegan Wolf, desert tortoise adoption program coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD).

Wolf says captive tortoises grow up to about 14 inches long and can live upward of 100 years.

Arizona residents interested in adopting should review the Tortoise Adoption Program page on the department’s website. How to properly care for a desert tortoise, including instructions on how to build a burrow also are included.

AZGFD staff will also hold a free virtual tortoise adoption information session via Zoom at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 10, for anyone interested in adopting.

Once the burrow is completed, potential adopters can submit an online application here.

Official say 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.

The enclosed area must include an appropriate shelter for the tortoise to escape Arizona’s extreme summer heat and a place to brumate — a seasonal period of inactivity similar to hibernation — during winter.

Wolf says AZGFD allows for one tortoise to be adopted per person, per household, but an additional tortoise of the same sex can be adopted if it is placed in a completely separate enclosure, as these reptiles can be territorial.