Desert Tortoise Adoption
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Adopting a Mojave desert tortoise in Nevada

(Source: Nevada Department of Wildlife)

Desert Tortoise

For those residing in Nevada wishing to adopt a desert tortoise:

Prior to adopting, the Department of Wildlife recommends reading all of the information available on the two currently official approved adoption programs: Tortoise Group in southern Nevada (www.tortoisegroup.org) and the Reno Tur-toise Club in northern Nevada (www.sierrawave.org/rttc/). The websites provide useful information in care and husbandry of a tortoise, including constructing an appropriate burrow, food and water requirements, and preventing escape. Once a desert tortoise is acquired, it can be officially adopted via the online registration program at: www.tortoisegroup.org/adoption.php.

For those residing outside Nevada wishing to adopt a tortoise in Nevada:

This is not encouraged. There are considerable regulations and restriction when desiring to adopt a desert tortoise from another state, and there are already tortoises available for adoption within each state. The Department encourages those in other states to adopt within their state. Contacts for each state that allows adoptions of desert tortoises are below:

• California Department of Fish and Game (661) 285-5867 or the California Turtle and Tortoise Club at www.tortoise.org
• Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (435) 879-8694 or (801) 538-4830
• Arizona Game and Fish Department (602) 942-3000

For those residing in Nevada, who currently have a desert tortoise as a pet (custodian):

In Nevada, tortoises that were in captivity on or before Aug. 4, 1989 are exempted from needing approval and or a permit for a desert tortoise; however, custodianship of pet desert tortoises acquired after this date must be formalized through an official adoption program or other method that has been approved by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS). All desert tortoise custodians are encouraged to complete the adoption process for animals they possess as soon as possible. This service is available at www.tortoisegroup.org/adoption.php.

Of note: after May 1st 2013, anyone wishing to possess a pet desert tortoise will only be allowed to have one to minimize the over breeding problem. (learn more)

Help us control the number of unwanted captive tortoises. Please do not allow captive tortoises to breed!

Adoption can occur in two ways:

Register-to-Legally-Adopt (RLAP):

• Do you already have a tortoise?
• Has someone given you a tortoise (or are you thinking of accepting a tortoise?)
• Have you found a tortoise that you would like keep?

Terrific! By using the Tortoise Group’s new streamlined online system, you can register the tortoise and become its legal custodian. This registration method is free. If you would like advice on preparing or improving your yard, Tortoise Group will provide advice for a fee of $10 for members and $20 for nonmembers.

Traditional Adoption:

Tortoise Group will help you become the custodian of a desert tortoise by advising you in creating a healthy tortoise habitat and then placing an unwanted pet in your home.

• Each household adopting a tortoise for the first time is limited to one adult male tortoise
• Tortoise Group charges a consultation and technical assistance site visit charge of $125 for new custodians (An initial site visit charge of $20 for nonmembers and $10 for members will be deducted from the $125 charge).

Last updated: 08-29-2013