Desert Tortoise Sterilization

wild desert tortoise

Dr. Johnson will be teaching 15-20 other veterinarians and many veterinary technicians how to spay desert tortoises using a technique he developed. The class, sponsored by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Nevada Department of Wildlife, will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada next week. 

There is a significant problem with uncontrolled captive pet desert tortoise breeding and overpopulation. Many sanctioned shelters or rescues have well over 100 individuals needing homes. Most Southwestern states have regulations permitting one desert tortoise per person, however many households have both a male and a female together in the back yard and end up with 6-12 hatchling tortoises every year. It does not take long before everyone they know have taken some babies. People then start looking for other options to get rid of all their baby tortoises. Some inappropriately release them back into the wild. This should never be done as it creates a huge risk of transmission of diseases common in captive tortoises to wild tortoises and also can be a death sentence for a tortoise if it is not released into proper habitat. Most unwanted tortoises end up at rescues/shelters and are confined in small holding pens until new homes are found for them (which can sometimes take years). Some unfortunately are euthanized due to lack of homes or space to provide proper care.

Rules and regulations limiting tortoise ownership and public education have been ineffective at resolving the pet desert tortoise overpopulation problem. Stricter regulations on ownership, captive breeding and the development of safe sterilization techniques are the next steps to try to reduce the overpopulation problem present.

To read more on USA Today about the event click here

To schedule your desert tortoise for sterilization surgery please call the hospital or schedule an appointment online.