Nearly 300 Desert Tortoises are Currently in Need of Happy Homes in Southern Arizona

Each year, the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) finds homes for hundreds of desert tortoises surrendered to the state. Some of them were snatched from their natural habitats with the objective of keeping them as a pet. Regardless of how they end up with AZGFD, the staff there are currently caring for 288 rescued or surrendered tortoises that aren’t eligible for release back into the wild.

desert tortoise
Photo: Pixabay/GradeOne

The creatures are said to be currently in a brumation period. As fall heads into winter, certain species — including lizards, tortoises, turtles, frogs, and snakes — start to slow down. A stage essential to their survival, turtles and tortoises look for cozy spots in which to burrow and stay warm(er) til the temperatures begin to rise.

“Much like a romantic fairytale, when the torts awake from their slumber, they’ll be ready for a fresh start,” Game and Fish relayed. If you always thought it would be cool to have your very own tortoise ala Bill Hodges in Mr. Mercedes now’s your chance. There’s only one hitch: you have to be a qualified Arizona resident in order to adopt.

desert tortoise
Photo: Pixabay/MelKro

“Desert tortoises offer longtime companionship without the drama,” Game and Fish’s Tegan Wolf noted. “Tortoises are adoring and low maintenance. They enjoy healthy greens, exploring the outdoors, and visiting with their companions. Desert tortoises make a great addition to a family home with the right preparation. Our team of specialists knows each tort’s unique personality, and we will help you find your perfect match and prepare for their arrival.”

To be considered, potential adopters must have a burrow enclosure for their future tortoise. The outdoor space they’ll be living in should be safe from hazards like toxic plants or unsecured below-ground pools.

desert tortoise
Photo: Pixabay/RosZie

Those are just a few of the considerations. As with any potential pet that will depend on you, make sure you familiarize yourself with how to properly care for a tortoise before jumping in with both feet. In theory, it may sound cool but realistically tortoise ownership may not be right for you. Remember, desert tortoises can live to between 30-50 years in the wild, and sometimes up to 80 years, so you’ll need to suss out a long-term stewardship plan should you decide to forge ahead.

There are zero fees to apply for a tortoise, but a $25 donation is suggested to assist AZGFD in their continuing efforts to care for the tortoises at the facility.

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