The Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum is putting out a call for help to find homes for desert tortoises.

They’re part of an adoption program through Arizona Game and Fish, but the Desert Museum has now extended their adoption window through the end of October because they have so many tortoises.

They might not be the common pet you’d expect, but each tortoise is hoping to join your family.

“Yeah, you can pet it. They’re really social to people,” Tom Weaver, the Curator of Herpetology, Ichthyology, and Invertebrate Zoology at the Desert Museum explained. “But they are a reptile. They will hibernate for the winter and when it’s hot out, they’re probably burrowed.”

Weaver is in charge of birds, reptiles, fish and insects at the Desert Museum. He’s overseeing the program this year, and seeing a constant need.

“We’re getting into the season where things are gonna start hibernating, so it slows down,” Weaver said. “But we’ve had probably up to 100 tortoises here at one time.”

Desert tortoises are a protected species, and they need to stay in Arizona, but just putting them back into the wild really isn’t an option.

“It’s not recommended to release any animal that’s been in captivity,” Weaver said. “There’s a lot of complications that can happen with introduced diseases. So we decided to be a resource, to help Game and Fish be able to find homes for these animals and keep them from putting them back into the wild.”

There are several reasons why these tortoises end up in the program needing homes. Sometimes people will find them and take them in as pets, and later have to get rid of them, because they don’t realize how long they can live. Sometimes people will take in one tortoise, and think they need a friend. At that point they’ll either fight, and one ends up needing to be re-homed — or they mate. It’s illegal to breed these animals in captivity, but the babies end up needing homes.

The adoption program has hatchlings, young tortoises, adult tortoises, and seniors, since they can live to be 100 years old.

While we were at the Desert Museum, we met Victoria and Michael Groshner, with their daughter Arabella, as they were adopting “Rosie.”

“I always had a tortoise when I was little,” Victoria said. “So I thought it would be really exciting for our kids, because I have a son as well, to experience what I experienced.”

These tortoises, like Rosie, don’t need much to live an amazing life.

They need a solid barrier they can’t escape or dig under, that can also protect them from other animals.

Depending on their age, they need about 16 square feet, up to a few hundred.

They need a place to burrow, some shade, and a good healthy diet of fruits and veggies.

Weaver says their staff and volunteers are here to help, and once you prep your space and apply, you’re almost there.

“Basically call us or come out here,” he said. “If you come out to visit, we can give you a pamphlet with an explanation of everything. And what we’ll do, is we have volunteers that will set up an appointment with you to go look at where you want to take care of them, approve it and then we’ll find you a tortoise. And at anytime, you can give the tortoise back to the program. I don’t want people just to take them for the summer and bring them back just for fun. We are looking for homes. So it’s very important, if you want to be a part of it, be a committed partner in it. We would really appreciate that.”

If you’d like to apply, the Desert Museum is taking applications through the end of October. The tortoises will go into hibernation for the winter, and adoptions will start up again in April. You can check the requirements, make an appointment for help, and apply at