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    Loving, caring homes needed for desert tortoises - Desert Rat - The Premier Hunting and Fishing Blog of the Southwest!

    Loving, caring homes needed for desert tortoises

    Loving, caring homes needed for desert tortoises

    Economic crisis has led to overwhelming number of tortoises looking for homes

    The current economic crisis hasn’t only taken a toll on people, but on wildlife too. The number of relinquished desert tortoises has grown, and now the Arizona Game and Fish Department is looking for good, approved homes for these fun family pets.

    Contrary to many people’s initial assumptions, desert tortoises can be interactive pets that provide companionship without as many demands as a cat or dog. Tortoises can teach many of the same life lessons to children, including responsibility, compassion and commitment.

    “Unfortunately, as more people have been displaced from their homes during these tough times, the number of desert tortoises surrendered to our adoption program has grown,” says Cristina Jones, Arizona Game and Fish turtle biologist. “The Department and its partners are running out of room to house all of these animals, as they cannot be returned to the wild once they’ve been in captivity.”

    Those interested in adopting a tortoise will need to have an enclosed area in their yard free from potential hazards, such as a dog or pool. The enclosed area must include a burrow for the tortoise to escape Arizona’s extreme temperatures. Tortoises are only available for adoption to residents living within the species’ native range, which includes the Phoenix, Bullhead City, Kingman, Lake Havasu, Tucson, and Yuma areas. Desert tortoises cannot survive the severe winters that occur in the northeastern and southeastern regions of the state.

    A desert tortoise adoption packet, which includes the adoption application, can be downloaded at www.azgfd.gov/tortoise. This Web site also offers information on feeding, care, and creating a habitat for a tortoise, as well as frequently asked questions.

    Because there are more tortoises than qualified homes to adopt them, breeding captive tortoises is discouraged. There is a limit of one tortoise per household.

    Tortoises are marked with identification and pass a health check before being available for adoption. State law prohibits taking these creatures from the wild. Federal law bans the transport of them across state lines.

    Desert tortoises are native to the southwestern desert and can live up to 100 years. They grow to be about 15 pounds and hibernate in the winter months. Desert tortoises eat plant material, including grasses and wildflowers.

    Captive desert tortoises cannot be released back into the wild as they can pass an upper respiratory disease to wild tortoise populations. It is also illegal and harmful to desert tortoise populations to collect tortoises from the wild.

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