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The Amorae Company Group

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Buy Desert Tortoise

Desert tortoises have been kept in captivity for many years. While captive maintenance of pet desert tortoises is legal, there are laws and guidelines for keeping them in captivity. In most areas, it is illegal to collect wild desert tortoises for pets. As well, it is illegal in most areas to release captive desert tortoises into the wild. The Desert Tortoise Council strongly recommends that any person who keeps desert tortoises in captivity or who wishes to keep desert tortoises in captivity adhere to these laws.

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In Arizona, lawfully obtained desert tortoises may be privately adopted. Arizona Game and Fish Commission Order 43, Subsection E, limits possession of a captive desert tortoise to one per person per household, and directs progeny to be gifted to another person within 24 months of hatching or as directed by the Arizona Game and Fish Department (R12-4-407 (A)).

In California, it is illegal to sell, purchase, harm, take, possess, transport, or shoot a projectile at a tortoise (Gopherus) (California Fish and Game Code 5000). It is illegal to have a tortoise as a pet unless it was acquired prior to 1972. (California Fish and Game Code 5001). While there is no legal limit to the number of desert tortoises a California resident may possess in state, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife strongly discourages having males and females together in captivity or breeding captive desert tortoises.

In Nevada, desert tortoises may be legally kept as pets if they were held in captivity prior to listing under the Endangered Species Act (August 4, 1989 (50 Code of Federal Regulations 17.4, Nevada Administrative Code (NAC) 503.093). Progeny of legally held desert tortoises are protected from take under the Endangered Species Act (50 Code of Federal Regulations 17.4). Take is defined as to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct (section 3(19), federal Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended). Possession, basic care, or non-commercial transfer of such progeny in captivity are not prohibited (16 U.S. Code 1532, 50 Code of Federal Regulations 17.3). NAC 503.093 requires that any desert tortoise not already held in captivity on or before August 4, 1989, must be acquired through an adoption program approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and must be registered with the Tortoise Group. The release of pet or captive desert tortoises to the wild is illegal without prior authorization from the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NAC 503.135, NRS 501.105, NRS 501.181, NRS 503.597).

In Utah, a person must obtain a Certificate of Registration from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to legally possess a captive desert tortoise. Only one captive tortoise will be placed in each household and only to residences outside of Washington, Kane, and Iron Counties (Berry and Duck 2000, SWPARC 2019). The release of captive desert tortoises to the wild is illegal.

Consequently, the release of any species of captive tortoise into the wild is a violation of the Federal Endangered Species Act, Arizona Revised Statute 17-306, the California Endangered Species Act, Nevada Administrative Code (NAC 503.135, Nevada RS 501.105, NRS 501.181, NRS 503.597, and Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (Rule R657-53-6).

Some custodians of captive tortoises may not be able to keep their pets; tortoises can live as long as humans can. Some people may want to become custodians. In other instances, a captive desert tortoise may escape from their yard in an urban situation, and the finder of the tortoise may want to keep it as a pet or find a new home for it. To learn how you can find a new home for a captive tortoise and help native desert tortoises from being exposed to potentially fatal diseases, please refer to the procedures described below for the state in which you reside.

There is a Desert Tortoise Adoption Hotline (844 896-5730) and email (email hidden; JavaScript is required/* */) in Arizona. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (520 883-3062, in the Tucson Area is a state-sanctioned Adoption Facility.

Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah do not allow for the transport or export of desert tortoises outside their respective states. At this time, the California Turtle and Tortoise Club and the Tortoise Group are unable to assist with out-of-state requests. Please contact your local animal rescue society, reptile and turtle/tortoise rescue organization, animal shelter, etc. and inquire if they can help with your request.

Berry, K.H. 1993. Answering questions about desert tortoises: a guide for people who work with the public in California. Bureau of Land Management, California Desert District Office. BLM-CA-PT-93-003-6840. Obtained from BLM Library, SC-653, BLDG. 50, DENVER FEDERAL CENTER, P. 0. BOX 25047, DENVER, CO 80225-0047.

Arizona Game and Fish is accepting tortoise adoption applications online through September. Before you apply, go to to find out what's required to get your yard ready for a tortoise to live in.

Sonoran Desert tortoises may be privately adopted when specific requirements are met. In a recent press release, Game and Fish said that due primarily to illegal breeding, it has more than 200 tortoises of various ages and sizes available for adoption in 2022.

Arizona Game and Fish runs a tortoise adoption program. Interested people can submit applications from April 1 to Sept. 30. Adoptions don't take place from October through March because that's when tortoises hibernate.

Desert tortoises hibernate during the winter months, so they need an enclosure or a burrow to help them escape the cold. This must be built before you can adopt. During hibernation, tortoises are inactive. In the warmer weather, they'll be out and about.

The deadline draws near: Anyone looking to adopt a desert tortoise this year from the Arizona Game and Fish Department needs to get their application in soon before it is time for the reptiles to hibernate for the winter.

Tegan Wolf, the desert tortoise adoption program coordinator for the department, said over email that she thinks Oct. 19 will be the application deadline this year, but "you want to get your application in as soon as possible."

Desert tortoises are found in the wild in the Sonoran Desert and it is illegal to take one from its natural habitat and keep it as a pet. Despite this, they have become desirable as pets and some people illegally breed them, Wolf said.

"They can lay up to 12 eggs in captivity and most of them survive," she said. "Because they live so long, it is usually about 10-12 years before they are large enough that people realize they are in over their head with 30-40 larger tortoises."

Fred Santesteban said this is something important to consider when adopting a tortoise. He recommends you either "put it in your will or make arrangements" because they may outlive their human companions.

Preparing a burrow is critical for being able to adopt a desert tortoise from Arizona Game and Fish. The website provides detailed instructions for making a burrow in your yard that will protect the animal from extreme heat and also the cold season when it is hibernating.

In a YouTube video, Wolf explains how to make a burrow for a tortoise with either a large 12-inch PVC pipe or cinder blocks. When you submit your application to adopt a desert tortoise, you need to include photos of your completed burrow.

Native plants are good fodder for desert tortoises, Wolf said. Arizona Game and Fish has a lengthy guide of what foods are best for your new tortoise. It generally recommends native plants and grasses that are not treated with fertilizers or pesticides.

Desert tortoises eat only plants and favor vegetation such as hibiscus, curly mesquite grass and prickly pear. Their diet can be supplemented with store-bought vegetables such as bell peppers, turnips and collard greens.

Tortoise Town is a family owned and operated turtle and tortoise farm that is proud to sell ONLY healthy captive bred tortoises, box turtles, and aquatic turtles, chameleons, geckos, and iguanas for sale.

Buy with confidence that your tortoise or box turtle will arrive overnight via UPS or FedEx, well packaged and insulated with heat or cold packs added as needed to provide a safe reliable trip from our tortoise farm to your home or business. We ship year-round to all states in all temperatures! 041b061a72

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