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Registration Program

Limited to residents of Nevada

Under the authority of the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Nevada Department of Wildlife, Tortoise Group has performed adoptions of the threatened Mojave desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) in Nevada for many years. The program ensures that the conditions for a tortoise are safe and offer a healthy environment. The new programs are limited to pet desert tortoises in Nevada.


Important points to know about pet tortoises

  • A tortoise must live outdoors.
  • A tortoise must have a well-insulated burrow.
  • A tortoise must be fed a healthy diet with supplementation.
  • A breeding pair of tortoises must be separated.

Things you should know if you want to become a tortoise custodian

  • Custodians must be adults and residents of Nevada.
  • Caring for a tortoise is a long-term commitment; they can live to be 80-100 years old!
  • For NEW adoptions, each household is limited to one adult male tortoise.
  • All desert tortoises must be transferred or adopted through the approved federal and state adoption program through Tortoise Group.

Is it legal to possess a desert tortoise since they are protected as a threatened species?

The US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Nevada Department of Wildlife are mandated to protect those tortoises born after the desert tortoise was federally placed on the Endangered Species List on August 4, 1989.

  • A tortoise is legally held in captivity if:
    • The tortoise was acquired before August 4, 1989. Their progeny are also held legally.
    • The tortoise was adopted officially through the Tortoise Group Adoption Program approved by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • All other tortoises can now be legally adopted by simply registering with the Register-to-Legally-Adopt (RLAP) program!!!

Register-to-Legally-Adopt (RLAP)

  • Do you already have a tortoise?
  • Has someone given you a tortoise (or are you thinking of accepting a tortoise?)
  • Have you found a tortoise that you would like keep?

Terrific! By using our new streamlined online system, you can register the tortoise and be the legal custodian of that tortoise. If you would like Tortoise Group to advise you on preparing or improving your habitat, there is a consulting fee of $10 for members and $20 for nonmembers.

To begin the RLAP process, click Desert Tortoise Register-to-Legally-Adopt Application.