Hundreds of friendly tortoises are waiting for a new home after being bred illegally or abandoned.

Arizona’s Game and Fish Department is currently giving nearly 300 Sonoran Desert tortoises up for adoption.

The tortoises are primarily captive and have been bred in captivity or by people who can no longer care for them.

But staff are struggling to find homes for the reptiles, despite them being small, personable, and even cuddly, according to Tegan Wolf, the Desert Tortoise Adoption Program coordinator.

Wolf believes that the department has a record number of tortoises available this year due to illegal breeding in people’s yards.

She said: “I think they’re fun. They like chin scratches and head scratches. I get a lot of people who tell me they hang out during morning coffee. Like they’ll go sit out and the tortoise will come up and hang out.”

She encouraged people who are interested in adopting a tortoise to research and learn more about this particular kind of reptile, as it is a lifetime commitment.

The tortoises, who only grow to weigh about 12 pounds, are not high-maintenance pets and require a lower level of care.

All that is needed is to build them a burrow and ensure they have an enclosed yard with a fence since they are not swimmers.

According to Ms Wolf, tortoises are fun additions to a family and are very personable.

Their diet is simple and consists of grass and native plants, while Bermuda or Timothy Hay can be purchased for around $15, and it can last a year.

Last year, around 400 tortoises were taken in by the department, but only 180 found a permanent home.

Ms Wolf hopes that people will consider adopting a tortoise and provide them with the love and care they need.

The Department adopts out hundreds of captive desert tortoises that are surrendered there each year.

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These tortoises cannot be released back into the wild because they can transmit diseases that can decimate the wild population.

The adoption period begins in March and lasts until about October, depending on the temperatures, since they brumate during the cooler months, according to the agency.

However, adoption applications are being accepted year-round.

On its website, the agency says: “Desert tortoises are nontraditional pets, but are fascinating animals and families can gain an appreciation of desert wildlife by caring for a tortoise and watching its natural behaviour.”

Under state law, desert tortoises are available for adoption for Arizona residents only.

Arizona Game and Fish Commission Order 43, states that the “possession limit is one desert tortoise per person per household” and it is illegal to breed desert tortoises.

The agency encourages people to ensure they are able to provide proper care to the animal prior to applying for adoption.

Potential families for the pets should also consider that healthy tortoises can live upwards of 80-100 years.

People “should have a long-term plan in place in either a will or other succession plan as the tortoise may outlive its caretaker,” the agency says.

Original Article