75 Desert Tortoises Up for Adoption in Arizona

A desert tortoise can make a fascinating addition to the right Arizona backyard. | Courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Desert tortoises make fun and non-traditional pets — and the Arizona Game and Fish Department has dozens that need new homes.

As The Arizona Republic reported last week, Game and Fish is searching for homes for 75 of the tortoises, most of which have been surrendered to the department by their previous owners. Some others were the product of illegal breeding, the department said. The tortoises are various ages and sizes, and some are only a few weeks old.

Because of the risk of spreading disease and disrupting genetic populations, tortoises that have been kept as pets can't be released back into the wild. They also can't be taken out of Arizona, which is one reason owners sometimes give them back to Game and Fish. It's illegal to collect tortoises from the wild, so if you're looking for a pet tortoise, this is the way to do it.

Permanent Arizona residents are eligible to adopt the tortoises and must submit an application, along with photos of where their tortoise will be kept, to the department. You can read more about the requirements for shelter, food and habitat in a packet Game and Fish has put together. Keep in mind that such a pet is a long-term commitment — desert tortoises can live to be 100 years old.


Good afternoon, My family and I live in Phoenix, Arizona and we saw this showing the adoption of the Tortoises. We have a decently sized property on 67th Avenue. Some homes next to us have horses and things like that. Just to give a description of the size. Anyway, we are very interested in adopting a few if possible. Thank you, Mario Moreno

Hello. I live in Lebanon Tn and have great experience with torts. Haven't owned one in a couple of years as I'm having new home built. Home to be completed next month with an open enclosed area for my soon to be next family of torts. I'm looking for 1 or 2 no sex preference and have great references. I can travel or arrange transportation. Please Pm or call me anytime at 317-512-2413

Have 4.5 acres in Washington state. Will adopt.

I would love to take care of one or two. We have a fairly large fenced in back yard with some fig trees, blackberry bushes and aging cats who shouldn't be any trouble.

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