The Arizona Game and Fish Department announced an overabundance of captive tortoises has has them looking for residents who are willing to adopt.
Desert tortoises are protected in Arizona and cannot be legally collected from the wild, but breeding of captive tortoises and the return of tortoises by owners who can no longer care for them has led to a surplus. Having to care for captive tortoises takes away resources for wild tortoise conservation, according to experts.
In Tucson, Game and Fish partners with the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum to find adoptive homes.
Captive desert tortoises, which can live from 50 to 100 years, cannot be released into the wild. They could jeopardize wild populations by introducing disease or displacing them from their territory.
Captive desert tortoises can be personable, provide companionship and interact with caregivers, yet they don't require the investment of time or money that dogs or cats need.
Though they are low-maintenance, tortoises must have an enclosed yard free from potential hazards, such as dogs, cats and unfenced pools, as well as a burrow where they can escape the summer heat and hibernate in the winter. An adult tortoise weighs about 15 pounds and eats plant material, including grasses and wildflowers. To discourage captive breeding, Game and Fish will allow the adoption of just one tortoise per household.
How to adopt
Anyone interested in adopting a desert tortoise can learn more about their care and find an adoption application at www.azgfd.gov/tortoise
The Arizona Game and Fish Department also encourages schools to adopt tortoises and offers grants to build habitats. For more information on the grants, call 1-623-236-7530.