Pet desert tortoises in need of adoption

It’s been a busy summer so far for Tortoise Group, the Las Vegas nonprofit group that handles pet desert tortoise adoptions in Nevada.

In spite of having more than a dozen tortoises adopted so far in 2014, there are still scores of tortoises looking for new custodians. And with no place to take unwanted desert tortoises now, and the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center about to close at the end of the year, finding new custodians for the reptile that is endangered in the wild is a constant problem.

“Although some tortoises lose their homes due to foreclosure or death of their custodians, the major problem is backyard breeding,” said Jim Cornall, executive director of Tortoise Group. “Pet tortoises can’t simply be put in the desert, because of the dangers of introducing disease into the wild population, or overburdening the already fragile desert balance with more animals than the system can support. We have to find homes for them.”

Tortoise Group is planning to hold two workshops in July in Gardnerville and Reno – and is bringing desert tortoises along for those who chose to adopt, and have prepared their backyards, as a result of the first trip earlier this year.

The US Fish & Wildlife Service is assisting with funding for the efforts.

More than 150 people attended the two initial workshops, which were the beginning of Tortoise Group setting up a chapter in the capital region. The sessions led to new volunteers being recruited, and to several adoptions. More than a dozen adoptions have already taken place from tortoises already in the area, and around a dozen more tortoises will be going to their new homes this month.

Tortoises will be heading up to Reno on July 23, with assistance from the Nevada Department of Wildlife, with adoptions taking place the following two days. The first workshop is 3:30-5:30 p.m. July 26 at the Humane Society, 2825 Longley Lane, in Reno. The second workshop is 1-3 p.m. July 27 at the Cooperative Extension building, 1329 Waterloo Lane in Gardnerville.

“We were delighted by the response to the initial workshops,” Cornall said. “The people we spoke with and visited were so full of enthusiasm, and eager to be involved. We wanted to bring tortoises as soon as sufficient yards were prepared, and we also wanted to hold new meetings, both for the new members, and for anyone else who couldn’t make those first workshops, but might be interested in learning more about adopting a pet desert tortoise.”

For more information on desert tortoise adoptions, or the workshops, call (702) 739-7113 or email


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