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200 desert tortoises are looking for new homes

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has about 200 desert tortoises available for adoption.

These tortoises have been surrendered to the department, some confiscated from illegal breeders, and cannot be returned to the wild.

The department’s Corey Barr says there are various sizes available, from hatchlings to 30-pound adults. She describes requirements for prospective habitats.

“They need to be able to get out of the heat or the cold, depending on where they are," Barr said. "So a burrow has to be dug down a certain amount. We usually say 12-18 inches, depending on the size of the tortoise, and then insulated.”

Barr says adopters should have a long-term plan in place to care for the animals, since tortoises can live for 80 to 100 years.

"It is a commitment," Barr said. "A lot of people end up willing their tortoises to other people because they might be outlived by their pet. So that is something to consider, especially if you're wanting to adopt a small tortoise like a hatchling."

Game and Fish says the possession limit is one tortoise per person, per household. Learn more about the program at  azgfd.com/wildlife/nongamemanagement/tortoise/captivecare.

Nick Sanchez is a senior producer for KJZZ's The Show. He joined the station as an intern during the spring of 2022, where he developed a passion for audio storytelling in the Valley.