AZ Game & Fish: Adopt a desert tortoise

AZ Game & Fish: Adopt a desert tortoise
Desert tortoise eating prickly pear (Source: National Park Service)

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Arizona Game and Fish Department each year adopts out captive desert tortoises that are not able to be released back into the wild as they often can transmit diseases that could decimate the state’s wild population.

Desert tortoises offer a unique alternative to more traditional family pets and can teach many of the same life lessons to children, including responsibility, compassion and commitment. Contrary to many assumptions, desert tortoises can be interactive and provide companionship without as many demands as a cat or dog. Important reminder though for those considering adopting a desert tortoise - it is a long-term commitment as the animal often lives to be 80 years or older.

There are a few things that those interested in adopting should know before applying - a secure yard or separate enclosure in the yard that is free from potential hazards like a dog, fire pit, or an un-fenced pool. The enclosed area must also have appropriate shelter for the tortoise to escape the summer sun and cooler winter weather.

Another important step is for potential adopters to educate themselves on all things desert tortoise:

E-mail the completed application and photos of the tortoise’s constructed habitat to: or mail it to TAP 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, AZ 85086.

Questions? Contact the Desert Tortoise Adoption Hotline 844 896-5730.

Potential adopters should allow at least two to three day for their application to be reviewed; approved applicants will be contacted to arrange pickup of their tortoise. “Possession limit is one desert tortoise per person, per household,” according to Arizona Game and Fish Department Commission Order 43.

Reminder from the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum: Private individuals become turtle/tortoise custodians, not owners. The animals remain the property of the State of Arizona.

For more on the Tucson program click here: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum or call (520) 883-3062.

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