Tortoise adoption days provide wealth of information

Share or Bookmark:
| More
May 21st, 2009

Desert tortoises offer a unique alternative to more traditional family pets, and can teach many of the same life lessons to children, including responsibility, compassion and commitment.

For approved applicants that are ready to adopt a desert tortoise, the Phoenix Herpetological Society (PHS) will be holding workshops to provide future custodians with a wealth of information on how to properly care for a captive desert tortoise.

Workshops will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays throughout the summer, including June 20, July 18 and Aug. 15. In addition, a special pre-hibernation clinic will be held on Sept. 26 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to help adopters learn more about their tortoise’s upcoming winter hibernation and how to properly prepare.

Adoptions are approved only after applicants have submitted an application and can demonstrate that they have a proper outdoor enclosure and burrow.

While these workshops are for already-approved adopters, anyone interested in becoming a tortoise custodian is encouraged to submit their application promptly in order to attend one of the free presentations. ***image4:left***

Desert tortoises can live up to 100 years. They grow to be about 15 pounds and hibernate in the winter months. They eat plant material, including grasses, wildflowers and native cactus fruits. Once captive, desert tortoises cannot be released back into the wild. Captive animals can pass an upper respiratory disease to wild tortoise populations.

Game and Fish discourages tortoise custodians from allowing their animals to breed. Each year, there are more tortoises than good homes for adoption.

Tortoises adopted through the cooperative program between the Arizona Game and Fish Department and PHS are marked with identification and pass a health check before being available for adoption.

State law prohibits taking these creatures from the wild, and federal law bans the transport of them across state lines.

For information on the workshops, please visit To learn more about adopting a desert tortoise, visit

2 Responses to “Tortoise adoption days provide wealth of information”

  1. My daughter and I have looking into adopting a desert tortosie and had a few questions.
    1. what is the cost of adoption?
    2. Is there a waiting list?
    3. Do we attend the classes before we get the tortosie?
    4. Do you come to our house to see where it will be living?
    Thank you and looking forward hearing from you!

    Kim and Madison Stutting

  2. Hi Kim and Madison,

    Desert tortoise adoption in Arizona is free, however, the Phoenix Herpetological Society (PHS, the non-profit organization that runs our adoption program) does ask for a $15 donation to cover the cost of a Microchip and care.

    I do not believe there is a waiting list for adoption desert tortoises as of now. PHS has one more adoption clinic this year, which will be on August 15th. They do require you to go to the clinic before you take your tortoise home, so that everyone interested in adoption a tortoise is familiar with the requirements of caring for a desert tortoise. They also require that you have the enclosure (often times a secure, fenced-in backyard works well) and the burrow built before you take your tortoise home. The adoption hotline for PHS is 602-550-7029.

    Visit for instructions on creating an enclosure, and for requirements of a burrow, and for specific instructions on creating a burrow.

    If you would like PHS to visit your house to see the enclosure and burrow to make sure it is suitable (and make suggestions on how to make improvements), they will; however, a site visit is not required. They do require photos of the enclosure, the burrow, and other aspects of the habitat (see the adoption form and packet to see a list of all the photos required).

    Please be aware that if you have a pool in your backyard, the tortoise must be in an enclosure separate from the pool as they do not swim and will drown if they fall in. Also, you must have the tortoise in an enclosure that is separate from other pets. Dogs can maul or kill desert tortoises and should never be left unsupervised with a tortoise.

    Please let me know if you have any other questions, and thank you so much for your inquiry.


Leave a Reply