Rescue and Adoptions

November 2017: I do not have any tortoises up for adoption at this time. Either the tortoises are not ready for adoption or they are down for brumation. Additionally I will not ship during the winter. In the Spring I will have TONS of box turtles, Russians, Redfoots, Sulcatas and several other miscellaneous species. Please keep track of this page and/or follow my Facebook page for updates.

October 2017: I’m sorry to have to announce that until further notice I cannot take in any more rescues. I wish I didn’t have to write this post but my choices are simple: Expend all my time and energy helping torts and continue careening towards the inevitable rescuers burnout or cut intakes until I not only get my head above water, but can actually float. Read more…


I’m sorry to advise until further notice I cannot accept water turtles. Water turtles are in great need of rescue resources. However, I do not have the space to house them. Water turtles are EXTREMELY hard to place and rescues are overrun with them. I do not know of any rescues taking them at this time.

“Turtles need rescuing?” “Yes, unfortunately,” is always the answer. Just like any other captive animal, humans have an incredible ability to mistreat them. Whether it’s improper care, outright abuse or as simple as the owner looses interest, they deserve a better home.

The goal is to rehabilitate them until they are healthy and adopt them to people who have done their research and really understand what it takes to keep a turtle/tortoise for life. Turtles and tortoises are not ‘throw away’ pets. They are exotic pets and require a deep level of understanding of the species in order to provide a lifetime home.

Northwest Tortoise invests extensive time vetting potential owners. If you are looking for a quick turtle/tortoise and expect to fill out a form and get immediate approval its recommend you look elsewhere.

Surrendering a turtle/tortoise

Northwest Tortoise is not a sanctuary. The goal is to rehab and rehome, not keep indefinitely. Space is limited and sometimes I cannot accept the surrender. If this is the case, I’ll do my best to refer other places that may be able to take your turtle/tortoise or place it on a waiting list. Contact me via email (or use the contact us link at the bottom of the menu on the home page) to discuss potential surrender. Northwest Tortoise does not charge a surrender fee.

Adoption policies

  1. Must be 18 years or older. Younger than 18 will need parental permission.
  2. All fees will be paid prior to shipping/pick up.
  3. Shipping charges will be the recipients responsibility. A $20 handling fee will be added. This will cover proper shipping containers, packing and delivering to shipping site. (Adoptions requiring Delta Dash will be considered on an individual basis)
  4. If an arrangement of meeting somewhere is determined a $10 handling fee will apply.

Placing deposits to hold an animal:

It’s common to place a deposit on a specific animal to wait for warm weather for shipping or other reasons. In this case the following guidelines apply:

  1. A non-refundable 50% deposit must be made. If the adopter changes their mind for any reason the deposit is forfeited. If the animal dies or is injured the buyer will have a choice of a replacement animal if one is available and agreed upon. If one is not available or agreed upon the buyer may choose a refund or keep the deposit on file to choose from the next available group.

How to apply to adopt

If you are interested in adopting a rescue, please follow the following steps:

  1. Fill out the initial contact form (pdf or word) then email to, subject tortoise (or use the contact us link at the bottom of the menu on the home page). The form consists of basic information such as location, species interested in and experience level. After the form is received it will allow for better understanding of the potential adopter and matching him/her with a turtle/tortoise.
  2. After a potential match is made more forms will follow. Housing, lighting, diet and all aspects of turtle/tortoise care will be discussed.  First-time owners are welcome. This process is not an easy or quick way to get a turtle/tortoise. I will not skimp on screening potential adopters! If you are dedicated enough to own a turtle/tortoise you are dedicated enough to go through the screening process!
  3. If you are approved payment/shipping/delivery will be discussed.

Please keep in mind I do work an actual job that takes 40+ hours of my week. Additionally I do not have an army of volunteers helping me. I try to respond within 24 hours.

Available for adoption

A note on determining age: Unless there is a hatch date for a turtle/tortoise there is no reliable way to determine age. Age cannot be reliably determined by size, rings on the shell, damage on the shell or any other speculative methods. The following ages are an educated guess based on information from the previous owner and 25 years of experience working with turtles/tortoises.

Permanent residents

Sometimes turtles/tortoises are surrendered in such poor conditions they cannot be adopted out. See the descriptions of some of the permanent residents below:

Fubar -Ornate Box Turtle

Fubar was surrendered in December of 2010, barely alive weighing 2.5 ounces, four years old. Fubar has multiple birth defects: Kyphosis of the spine, fused eyelids (although he has eyes under the lids), deformed skull causing nasal passage problems, deformed toes, foot, tail and unknown number of internal deformities. Fubar has problems from poor husbandry as well.

In the beginning, it appeared he had no interest in food. Box turtles, however, are very visual and I hypothesized his apparent lack of interest was due to his eye-lids fused shut. After devising a way to feed him his appetite increased and he looks forward to chow time. He spent his first summer outside and the sun did wonders for him.

Fast-forward to 2013 and Fubar opened up one eye! It’s three quarters open but he has vision! His other eye has opened about a third as well. I still have to hand feed him but once he’s started he can finish on his own. I’m not sure he can understand the signals his eyes are sending to his brain.

As of March 2017 he’s still going strong. However, he’s never gained or lost weight. He’s always been 2.5 ounces. I don’t believe he’ll ever recover from his deformities and they may end up too much for a long life.  I’ll provide the best care I can and give him a good life for as long as he has the will.


In Memory

Sometimes the good fight is lost. Some fights are easier to lose than others. I find it very difficult to lose an animal from preventable causes such as poor care. Read about two cases below that still stick with me.

Saraphina – Sulcata

Saraphina (Sulcata) was surrendered in August of 2011 from a case of long-term neglect and incorrect care. She was housed in a fish tank with no heat source, no access to sunlight or uva/uvb bulb, little to no access to water and fed a very nutrient-inadequate diet. She had a severe respiratory infection and serious dehydration among other more serious issues including Metabolic Bone Disease.

Additionally, the years of neglect left her deformed, emaciated and in overall poor condition. An x-ray revealed a golf-ball sized urolith. I choose not to surgically remove the urolith because I didn’t feel she was healthy enough for surgery.

After a course of antibiotics, good diet, baths every day, and good old-fashioned sunlight, she started improving. After a year of soaking the urolith receded. She regained the ability to drink through her nostrils as well. Her urates changed from rocks-to-gravel-to-paste and continued to progress toward normal.

Saraphina had four good years of soaking up the sun and eating fresh, natural foods. In August of 2015, Saraphina lost the good fight. Sometimes a tortoise can’t heal after extensive and long-term damage is done.


Plumley – Russian tortoise


Plumley was surrendered in October of 2015. To say Plumley came in injured on every part of his body was an understatement. Plumley appeared to have been chewed extensively, top, bottom, sides, and legs.  He also had a puncture in his carapace that went through the bone into the body cavity.  The carapace was void of almost any remaining material above the bone. His injuries were so extensive he only lasted a few days. At least he lost the good fight after a few days of being safe and warm.