The African spurred tortoise (Centrochelys sulcata), also called the sulcata tortoise, is a species of tortoise, which inhabits the southern edge of the Sahara desert, in northern Africa. It is the third-largest species of tortoise in the world and the largest species of mainland tortoise not found on an island and the only species in the genus Centrochelys.
The African spurred tortoise is native to the Sahara Desert and the Sahel, a transitional ecoregion of semiarid grasslands, savannas, and thorn shrublands found in the countries of Burkina Faso, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sudan In these arid regions, the tortoise excavates burrows in the ground to get to areas with higher moisture levels, and spends the hottest part of the day in these burrows. This is known as aestivation. Burrows may average 30 inches in depth; some dig tunnel systems extending 10 feet or more underground.
As pets they require large enclosures, temperatures above 60F (16 °C), and bedding composed of grasses or grass-based hay. Due to their high dietary fiber needs, grasses form a minimum of 75% of their food intake. To remain healthy, they require sufficient calcium for bone and shell development, low protein, and minimal fruit or sugary foods. Whereas wild tortoises obtain enough calcium from the soil, pets generally require calcium supplements. Young sulcatas grow quickly and can double in size each year during the first three years. Feeding of fruit should be avoided.
Many "wet" vegetables cause health problems in large quantities but prickly pear cactus pads, hibiscus leaves, hay from various grasses, and dandelions are generally safe. Some common garden plants, such as azaleas, are toxic to tortoises. Lack of calcium combined with high protein contributes to shell malformations and pyramiding. Sulcatas are voracious and sometimes overeat. Some tortoises take in excessive protein by eating caterpillars and snails.
LENGTH: 24 TO 36 INCHES
WIEGHT: 100 TO 200 POUNDS
LIFESPAN: 50 TO 150 YEARS