Sunday July 27, 2003

Adopt a tortoise

A short piece in the August 2003 issue of Sunset magazine suggests an interesting and "different" choice of pet. Although it is illegal to take a desert tortoise from the wild, tortoises in captivity often need new homes.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (ASDM) established the Tortoise Adoption Program (TAP) to benefit the welfare of captive and wild tortoises and turtles. The program is sanctioned by the Arizona Game and Fish Department and designed to assist with the transfer of unwanted or surplus captive desert tortoises to qualified private custodians.

The TAP exclusively addresses the Desert tortoise ( Gopherus agassizii ) and the Western Box turtle ( Terrapene ornata ), in the Tucson area (within the natural distribution of tortoises). Other turtles and tortoises are occasionally accepted by the ASDM but are not administered through the TAP. These animals are referred to the Department of Herpetology.

Private individuals become turtle/tortoise custodians , not owners. The animals remain the property of the State of Arizona. Only animals in apparent good health are placed with custodians. Animals suffering from disease or malnutrition are generally retained for rehabilitation. Tortoises are not placed between October 1 and April 1.

See details of the tortoise adoption program, as well as more information about these animals, at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum website. You can also learn more about the desert tortoise and its natural habitat (and neighbors) from the Desert Tortoise Preserve Committee. DNPC provides guided tours of the Desert Tortoise Natural Area, in Kern County, California. I'll have to remember this!

We talked once to someone who met a Galapagos tortoise at a party in a flat in San Francisco. If I recall correctly, the "owner" had brought the tortoise back fro the Galapagos on a ship for which he was a cabin boy, in the 20's or 30's. The tortoise wore heavy socks on its feet (to avoid scratching the hardwood floors) and had learned how to operate the faucets in the shower so it could enjoy a rain shower... Unfortunately, it never learned to appreciate the reason to turn OFF the shower after use, and following a bath it could be seen slopping around the flat in soggy socks...

What would our cats think of a tortoise...?

Adopt a tortoise ( in category Nature/Cats ) - posted at Sun, 27 Jul, 16:02 Pacific | «e»