PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department has about 260 Sonoran desert tortoises looking for forever homes.
“That’s a lot. It’s the most we’ve had at one time, for sure,” said Tegan Wolf, AZGFD's desert tortoise adoption program coordinator.
Wolf says the tortoises are a wide range of ages and sizes and they have so many primarily due to illegal breeding. Captive tortoises can grow to be 14 inches long and live 80 to 100 years.
“They’re very personable, they all have personality, and they like to be interacted with,” said Wolf.
Arizona residents interested in adopting should review the Tortoise Adoption Program page on the department’s website which shows how to properly care for a desert tortoise, including instructions on how to build a burrow also are included.
Burrows help to prevent them from potential hazards. Enclosures should be designed to keep tortoises away from dogs and prevent them from falling into unfenced pools, fire pits, and more.
The shelter must include an appropriate amount of space 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.
Once the burrow is completed, potential adopters can submit an online application here.
“In total, we have seven people here who are taking care of almost three hundred tortoises, so that’s a lot for seven people, so it’s really important we find these guys permanent homes,” said Wolf.
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.
Federal law prohibits desert tortoises from being transported across state lines.