Overpopulated desert tortoises available for adoption - Tucson News Now

Overpopulated desert tortoises available for adoption

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(Source: Arizona Game and Fish) (Source: Arizona Game and Fish)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The Arizona Game and Fish Department seeks permanent homes for desert tortoises.

The desert species has become overpopulated in captivity and there are not enough homes for them, according to Arizona Game and Fish's turtle program coordinator Cristina Jones.
     
"We cannot stress enough how detrimental removing tortoises from the wild and backyard breeding are to the species," Jones said.
  
According to a Game and Fish press release, desert tortoises, native to the southwestern desert, can live up to 100 years and grow to be about 15 pounds.

They eat grasses, wildflowers and other plant material, and hibernate in the winter.

Game and Fish says desert tortoises cannot be released back into the wild once they are captive because they could pass an upper respiratory disease to wild tortoises. Also, collecting tortoises from the wild is illegal and harmful to the tortoise populations.  
  
The department says those who want to adopt a tortoise will need to keep it in an enclosed area in their backyard, away from potential hazards like pools and dogs. Tortoises also need a burrowing area to escape the heat.

Tortoises are available for adoption in Phoenix, Bullhead City, Kingman, Lake Havasu, Tucson and Yuma. Desert tortoises cannot survive the severe winters that occur in the northeastern and southeastern regions of the state.  
  
For more information, visit www.azgfd.gov/tortoise.

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