They sure don’t move fast, but two desert tortoises are rapidly adapting to a new home at San Tan Mountain Regional Park.
The fenced-in habitat, built by the volunteer Friends of the San Tan Mountain Regional Park organization and finished in November, could be called a tortoise paradise.
But for months there was no tortoise to call the place home.
Then, a couple of months ago, the park adopted two tortoises — a mother and daughter, 50 and 30 years old — from the Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center, a wildlife rehabilitation branch of the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
“This is a great opportunity to see these beautiful creatures up close and personal and make sure they’re here for decades to come,” said park supervisor David Jordan, noting that desert tortoises can live for 100 years.
The habitat was seen as a possible draw for visitors to the more than 10,000-acre park surrounding the scenic San Tan Mountains.
The volunteers built a customized home with plenty of native vegetation for the tortoises to eat, and an underground compound of sorts where the laid back reptiles can relax out of the hot sun.
The habitat construction took only about six weeks, but it took months of following up on requests submitted to Maricopa County before that effort could begin, said Joan Perry, chairwoman of Friends of the San Tan Mountain Regional Park.
“We couldn’t get them in here quick enough,” Perry said. “This is so perfect for here. We’re beyond excited — they’re just amazing.”
Jordan said the habitat is also popular with other native wildlife including rabbits and birds.
And, desert tortoises can be spotted through out the park, though they tend to blend in with the surroundings, he said.
“You’ll see them in the canyon areas,” Jordan said. “You wouldn’t think so but they’re great climbers.”
Park officials are asking for help in naming the park’s two newest inhabitants.
“We’re open to any name,” Perry said.
The names submitted to park officials will be put into a drawing and will be determined by the luck of the draw.
For information about submitting a name, call Jordan at (480) 655-5554.
If you go
What: Desert Tortoise Discovery Program, featuring a speaker from Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center.
When: 5:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: San Tan Mountain Regional Park, 6533 West Phillips Road
Cost: Free; parking is $5
Information: (480) 655-5554