opinion

Kuzyk: Mesa resident rescues abandoned desert tortoises

Posted 8/24/21

In most cases, a pet dog or cat will do just fine. But, how about adopting a pet that could live for 100 years or longer?“Kuzyk Turtle Rescue” is providing good forever homes for …

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opinion

Kuzyk: Mesa resident rescues abandoned desert tortoises

Posted

In most cases, a pet dog or cat will do just fine. But, how about adopting a pet that could live for 100 years or longer?

“Kuzyk Turtle Rescue” is providing good forever homes for abandoned resident desert tortoises.

These desert tortoises came here because of owners passing away, or were surrendered by owners due to age or moving. I have room for them, so I feel happy to help them out.

It is absolutely necessary to keep the captive population away from the wild population. That’s why these captive tortoises — or any captive tortoises — cannot be returned into the wild. Not only could they not survive on their own, but they could also endanger other desert tortoises. Many of the diseases common in the captive population are highly contagious to other tortoises, and could easily cause severe damage to the wild tortoise population.

Most people don’t even consider opening up their homes to desert tortoises, however they really do make fantastic and personable family pets. It’s very rewarding to hear stories from those who have adopted a captive tortoise and made them part of their families. Desert tortoises can offer many of the same life lessons to children and provide just as much companionship and personality as dogs, cats and birds.

My desert tortoises are of various ages and sizes, but on average, a captive tortoise can live upwards of 100 years.

As a tortoise adopter, you’ll need a securely enclosed yard. You should construct a separate enclosure or burrow to protect the tortoise from potential hazards, such as a fire pit, an unfenced pool or dogs. The enclosed area must include an appropriate shelter for the tortoise to escape Arizona’s extreme summer heat and a place for brumation — a seasonal period of inactivity similar to hibernation — during winter months.

Keep in mind, federal law prohibits desert tortoises from being transported across state lines. Wild tortoises are federally protected under the Endangered Species Act, which means they’re protected from being removed from the wild, touched or harassed in any way. So, if you encounter one on a hike, camping trip or road trip, appreciate them from a distance.

Editor’s note: Andrew J. Kuzyk is a resident of Mesa. Kuzyk Turtle Rescue is not a registered nonprofit and Mr. Kuzyk doesn’t have a business license.

letters, opinion, captive tortoises, desert tortoises