The Living Desert
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Tortoises and Turtles

Native Species accepted
● Desert Tortoise
● Western Pond Turtle

If you are unsure of the species of tortoise or turtle you have found, click here or call The Living Desert Wildlife Rehabilitation line at 760-568-2330.

If you find a wild desert tortoise in what appears to be wild habitat
Call The Living Desert Wildlife Rehabilitation line at 760-568-2330​ immediately. Do not touch this tortoise – once removed from the wild, they cannot be returned. Note the physical state of the tortoise (sick or injured), its location, and any other useful information. Call The Living Desert and follow the rehabilitator’s instructions.

If you find a desert tortoise walking close to or on a road, you may pick it up gently and carry it low to the ground across the road, leaving it facing the direction it was originally headed.

How to identify a sick or injured tortoise/turtle
● Bleeding
● Soft, cracked, or broken shell
● Difficulty breathing/ nasal discharge/ whistling when breathing
● Animal attack

How to transport a tortoise/turtle
● Gently place in a box, crate, or other secure container
● Keep the container in a quiet, warm area (room temperature)
● Transport the animal to a wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible

Desert Tortoise Adoption Program
The Living Desert, in conjunction with California Fish and Wildlife and the California Turtle and Tortoise Club, accepts and adopts out captive desert tortoises. *Desert tortoises CANNOT be returned to the wild once in captivity.*

For further information on the Desert Tortoise Adoption program, please click here.

If you or someone you know has a California desert tortoise as a pet, it is important to register this desert tortoise. Registration is free of charge, and is a good way to identify and return a lost tortoise to its owner. For information on registering a desert tortoise, please call The Living Desert Wildlife Rehabilitation line at 760-568-2330​.

For information on appropriate accommodations, diets, UV and heat needs, and for information on hibernating a desert tortoise, click here.

General desert tortoise information:

Desert Tortoise Do’s and Dont’s:

Information about other species:
Western Pond turtles:
Sulcata tortoises:
Non-native reptiles and amphibians found in California:

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