Desert tortoises make great pets, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department has more than 40 of them to adopt out to homes in the Phoenix, Yuma and Prescott areas, the department announced last week.

Game and Fish's Tortoise Adoption Program is aiming to find homes for the animals before they go into hibernation this fall. The animals will be available to pre-approved families at an event early next month and by appointment thereafter, until October 1.

But not just any home will do: Your yard has to have an enclosed area free from potential hazards, such as a dog or a pool. That area must also have a shelter or shade for the tortoise to get out of the heat.

If you're interested and want to get pre-approved, you can download an application at When you submit your application, you'll have to provide photos of your yard and shelter.

The adoption program is necessary because of excessive backyard breeding, Game and Fish said in a news release. The animals can live for up to 100 years, and they eat plant material, including grasses and wildflowers. Once adopted, they can't be released back into the wild because of the risk of passing on diseases.

Photo courtesy of Arizona Game and Fish Department