Scottsdale sanctuary seeks donations as number of reptiles surrendered increases

(submitted photo)

(submitted photo)

As popularity of reptiles as pets increases, so do surrenders when owners aren’t prepared for commitment, according to the Scottsdale-based Phoenix Herpetological Society.

In 2015, the nonprofit sanctuary took in 489 surrenders and, at the current pace, expects to take in more than 540 animals in 2016.

Crystie Baker, director of education at PHS, stated in a press release that many of the surrenders are from people who can no longer keep a pet, such as one person who had to surrender a tortoise because of moving from a house to an apartment. Or, people purchase a pet on the side of the road or from pet stores and are not properly educated about what they are getting into.

“I think there are more surrenders now than in the past because reptiles in the pet trade have become an increasingly popular trend,” stated Ms. Baker in the release. “Anything that becomes popular is also going to become unpopular, which is where we come in. Our role as an animal shelter and sanctuary has grown tremendously over the past few years and I don’t see that trend changing any time soon.”

“We would love for all of the 400-plus sulcata tortoises at our sanctuary to find forever homes, but the truth is that many of them will spend the rest of their lives with us.”

In addition to taking in animals surrendered by private pet owners, PHS assists humane societies and rescue organizations, animal control departments, law enforcement and other organizations across the United States by rescuing and rehabilitating unwanted or confiscated reptiles.

Freshwater crocodile baby (file photo)

Freshwater crocodile baby (file photo)

Nonprofit sanctuary participating in “Arizona Gives Day” April 5

PHS is home to more than 1700 animals, many of them endangered species, and the nonprofit organization is hoping that donations through “Arizona Gives Day” on April 5 will help support its work.

“Every donation matters, no matter how small or large,” stated Ms. Baker in the release. “This is your chance to make a difference in the lives of hundreds of animals.”

A couple examples of the resources needed to care for surrendered and homeless reptiles include:

  • Adult African Sulcata Tortoises at the sanctuary eat 3,600 pounds of food (fruits, vegetables, and greens) every week, for a total of 187,200 pounds of food every year;
  • The cost of rodents and other snake food is approximately $1,850 each month, or $22,200 a year.

PHS also serves as an educational institution, reaching thousands of people every month through tours, field trips, school presentations, and off-site education events.

“We love to share our knowledge and passion for reptiles, such as our Reptile Club and Science Nights for children and teens, programs for Scouts and children with special needs, and our Herpetological Endangerment Research Program, an advanced program for serious young conservationists,” stated Ms. Baker in the release.  “Public support is critical to being able to offer these opportunities to not only K through 12 students, but also reptile enthusiasts from around the world.”

For more information about PHS, go to To donate to PHS, go to or go directly to the PHS website.

The Scottsdale Independent publishes a free daily newsletter. A print edition is mailed to 75,000 homes and businesses each month. If you value our journalistic mission, please consider showing us your support.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable. Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the arrow in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment