Tortoises as Pets

We received the following question from our previous post about our pet tortoise – “Do lots of people in the southwest keep tortoises as pets? Do you get them at a pet store? Just curious. ” I’ll tell you what we know.

Tortoises are not an uncommon outdoor pet in Arizona. There aren’t as popular as cats and dogs by far. There seem to be basically two kinds of tortises available, those that hibernate during the winter and those that don’t. Our tortoise is an African Spurred Tortoise. We got him when he was very small at a pet store. He lived in an aquarium in our son’s room for several years until he was big enough to move outside. At this point, we discovered that he cannot handle temperatures much below 65 degrees and that he would have to have a heated dog house. We should have done more research before we bought him. However, since he was now a part of the family we did our research and purchased a used Dogloo for him which has worked very well. We have an electric heater in it that turns on when it gets cold. We remove it around mid-spring and he is fine until mid-fall without it.

There are also desert tortoises native to Arizona that hibernate in the winter. However state law requires that you follow certain procedures if you want to adopt one of these tortoises.

Commission Order 43 prohibits taking desert tortoises from the wild. If desert tortoises are observed in the wild, it is best to let them continue on their way. Desert tortoises can be lawfully kept through state-sanctioned adoption facilities. More on AZ Desert Tortoise Management
This may be more than many of you want to know about tortoises; but, if you do want to know more, click on one of the links in this post.

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