State pushes desert tortoise adoptions in Reno

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State pushes desert tortoise adoptions in Reno

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The state is pushing for more adoptions of an endangered species that can easily outlive its owner.

The state is pushing for more adoptions of an endangered species that can easily outlive its owner.

Cris Tomlinson, with the Nevada Department of Wildlife, says adopting a desert tortoise is a long-term commitment.

"The desert tortoise can live 50 to 70 years. They're just really well adapted, especially in southern Nevada, they're adapted and they have a slow metabolism. They're not above ground most of the year, so they've evolved to live a long time.

Desert tortoises are found in the Mojave Desert in southern Nevada, California, and Utah.

The department is hosting adoption events this month in northern Nevada, including Reno, to find homes for pet tortoises that have been abandoned.

Tomlinson says over-breeding is a major issue for the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center in Clark County where many of these tortoises end up. Funding for the center is running low and it could close within the year.

Tomlinson owns a tortoise himself and says once the animal gets settled in, it's a low-maintenance companion.

"They're just like cats and dogs in that they have different personalities. Some like to roam a lot; they're real active in the summer. Others like to sleep a lot. I actually have a male and he comes out, but he doesn't like to stay out real long; he's friendly but not overly-friendly. So, they all have a unique personality."

Before people can adopt, they must build a burrow to protect the animal from summer heat, secure a cool room that won't freeze in the winter, and build a fence to prevent their pet from escaping.