Desert Tortoises To Good Home: Utahns Now Able To Adopt Tortoises

Feb 3, 2014

Desert tortoises can live as long as a human, and are listed as a threatened species. But now, through a state program, the large reptiles can be adopted.

Krissy Wilson, with the Division of Wildlife Resources, said the reptiles cannot be reintroduced into the wild because of health concerns, and may be unable to fend for themselves after living in captivity, but the long-living tortoises make good pets.

"There have been tortoises that when you go out in your yard they will come to you. I've had tortoises that come along and they like to sit on your feet when you're outside. So they become very used to you. They can become very social animals,” Wilson said.

The desert tortoise is listed as a threatened species, but Wilson says the DWR has an agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to allow adoptions. Those adopting would be responsible for lifetime care of the tortoise, but the reptile would remain state property.

"We're giving you a permit to adopt and hold this animal for the life of the animal. But if by chance you have to leave the state, you're supposed to surrender the tortoise. If by chance you're having problems with it or you just don't want it anymore, you just give us a call and we take it back," she said. 

The tortoises eat various vegetation such as dandelions and clover, and require a fenced-in living space of at least 150 square feet. For information on how to adopt, read the pamphlet on the DWR website.