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Utah’s Threatened Desert Tortoises Can Be Adopted

February 19
14:48 2014

tortoise_smallDesert tortoises, which can live as long as a human and are listed as a threatened species, can be adopted through a State of Utah program. Krissy Wilson, with Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources, says her agency has about 40 desert tortoises that need good homes. She says the animals cannot be reintroduced into the wild because of health concerns, and they might be unable to fend for themselves after being in captivity. She says the tortoises are known to be 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.” – Krissy Wilson/Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

She says the tortoises require a fenced-in living space of at least 150 square feet. Wilson says the state has cared for the tortoises after people removed them from their native homes.

The desert tortoise is listed as a threatened species, but Wilson says her agency has an agreement with the U-S Fish and Wildlife Service to allow for the adoptions. She says the person who adopts is basically giving the tortoise a lifetime home, but the animal remains property of the state to ensure its protection.

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.” – Krissy Wilson

According to Exotic Animal Trainer, Wildlife Expert & Educator, Terry Moore, there are definitely many things to consider before adopting a tortoise.

Something to remember about the desert tortoise is their longevity. This is not a pet that’s gonna fetch a ball or be playful with you. Proper diet is essential and most suffer from malnutrition because we just give them ice berg lettuce. They also need squash, carrots, and other fresh greens. And tortoises have a powerful beak. If you hand feed a tortoise, you can actually get a pretty painful bite. These are reptiles…in the winter they need to be kept warm. You are talking about an animal that, because of it’s longevity, is a lifelong comitment. Ask all the right questions, do all the right research with any pet….snakes, lizards, scorpions, dogs, cats….with any pet.” – Terry Moore/Animal Trainer, Expert & Educator

So, definitely a lot to think about if considering a tortoise adoption. Moore also says to make sure you make arrangements for your tortoise in your will, because he or she just might outlive you!

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