Desert tortoises in Utah looking for new homes

Low maintenance, have unique personalities

SALT LAKE CITY - The search is on for new homes for nearly 40 desert tortoises in Utah.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources put the reptiles up for adoption after most were removed from the wild by people.

 Wildlife officials say once a desert tortoise is taken from the wild, it can't be released because it can transmit diseases that threaten Utah's wild population.

The tortoises are being held at a Washington County facility, where some have lived for nearly 10 years.

 Officials say desert tortoises need a fenced area that's at least 15 feet by 10 feet, as well as burrows and plants such a dandelions and clover that they can eat. They say the tortoises make good pets because each has a unique personality and they're low maintenance.

Listed as a threatened species, the desert tortoise is native to the Mojave and Sonoran deserts of the Southwest.

While it's illegal to touch, disturb or remove tortoises in the wild, it's legal to acquire them through approved adoption programs.

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