SALT LAKE CITY – The Division of Wildlife Resources biologists are putting close to 40 desert tortoises up for adoption. The tortoises are being held at a facility in Washington County and some have been at the facility for almost 10 years. Nonetheless, the DWR is looking for suitable homes outside of Washington, Kane and Iron counties.
Listed as threatened on the federal Endangered Species list, most of the tortoises were found after people removed the tortoises from their native homes or were found unsuitable for relocation after being removed from an area cleared for development.
Once a wild tortoise is taken from the wild, it can’t be released. Releasing it could introduce diseases into Utah’s wild tortoise population, such as Upper Respiratory Tract Disease, URTD, whether or not showing symptoms which could be communicable to other tortoises, leading to the decline of wild desert tortoise populations.
Even though desert tortoises require some room, native aquatic species coordinator for the DWR Krissy Wilson said, caring for one is easier than caring for other pets.
“They don’t bark or chase cats,” Wilson said. “Also, they’re in hibernation six months out of the year.
Those wishing to adopt a desert tortoise will need to build burrows for the tortoise, plant dandelions, clover and other plants the tortoise can eat, and a fenced area that’s at least 15 feet by 10 feet.
Even though it takes work to provide a tortoise with a place to live, Wilson said she believes it’s worth it.
“Every desert tortoise I’ve ever seen has had its own unique personality,” she said. “You’ll notice that after you get your tortoise home.”
Resources and contact information
- More information about adopting a desert tortoise in Utah is available in a free online Desert Tortoise Adoption booklet
- Contact: Call Cory Noble at 801-538-4746.
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