Sulcata Tortoise – Facts and Information

Our world is blessed with life forms that are so diverse. Across the vast stretches of land and seas, live different life forms that are astounding in their own ways. The range of such species is truly immense. Both our earth’s flora and fauna are marvels to behold. Out of all these living forms, the ones who have walked our earth for centuries are the tortoises. When I say “centuries”, I really mean it! A tortoise can live to be over a hundred years old and can be very big once they reach adulthood. Out of all these tortoises, the sulcata tortoise (also known as the African spurred tortoise) is known to be the third largest (next to the Galapagos tortoise and Aldabra giant tortoise).

Before we proceed any further, it would be great to distinguish what a tortoise is from a turtle. Using these two terms can be really confusing and some of us might even use it interchangeably. Well, the fact of the matter is that a tortoise falls under the category of turtles. It is apparent how both of them are reptiles and have shells to protect their bodies. While there are a number of differences between the two, one of the easiest to distinguish is how tortoises are not much of water dwellers such as turtles. Generally, tortoises prefer to be in dry areas while turtles mostly live in water. So, there you have it – a major distinction between a turtle and tortoise.

Despite the fact that these tortoises will indeed become huge when fully grown, they have been made available to prospective pet owners. If you are one of those who plan to have a tortoise as a pet, then learning more information about them will help you understand their nature. Here are some facts about the tortoise:


From the name of the African spurred tortoise itself, it is easy to tell that they are native to the African continent. They can particularly be found in the Sahara Desert, in countries across the continent including Ethiopia, Sudan, Nigeria, Mali, and Mauritania among many others. Their natural habitats are grasslands, savannahs and shrublands. They are known to burrow into the ground of these dry lands so that they may find moist areas and escape high temperatures. In fact, their burrowing ability is quite remarkable and they have been referred to as little bulldozers due to this ability. When placed in captivity such as when they are made as pets, there are some notes that should be remembered to assure that these tortoises remain away from health risks. They must also be kept in similar conditions just like in their natural habitat. That is, they must be kept in a dry and hot environment and avoid being in cold and damp temperatures. When it rains or if the nights turn out to be too cold, they can be placed indoors in temporary housing set-ups.


Being herbivores, the diet of a tortoise constitutes mostly of vegetables, grasses and other herbaceous plants. A tortoise’s diet is another subject matter that should be discussed thoroughly due to its complexity. Hence, we came up with a separate article that can help you look into the matter further.


It is widely known how tortoises have a lengthy lifespan. These animals can live for over a century. In the case of sulcata tortoises, they are expected to have a lifespan of about 50 to 150 years. Well, that means that some of these tortoises alive today have been around since the latter part of the 19th century! Now that’s one amazing feat.


As hatchlings, they are barely 3 inches in length and you might be in for a surprise as they get older. Being the third largest out of all tortoises, you can expect the African spurred tortoise to get really big when fully grown. In average, they can weigh up to 200 lbs and be 24 to 36 inches long. Hence, necessary adjustments should be made to its housing and caging as they grow older. However, don’t worry too much about that while they are too young since it will take time for them to be massive in size.

People who consider having a tortoise should be responsible enough to understand the nature of these animals. In this manner, they can be assured that the tortoise can be healthy and reach its expected lifespan. Providing them with the proper diet and care are keys so they can enjoy a healthy life.

The Most Important Tortoise Care Everyone Should Know

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhether you’re a new to pet ownership or have been keeping some pets for years now and if you intend to get a tortoise as a pet, you should know important tortoise care management tips. Keeping a tortoise as a pet will not only give you that kind of happiness when you get when raising a typical pet.

By raising a tortoise, you will be exposed to some important realizations about wildlife protection efforts. You will also learn important things other than the tortoises. When you start keeping tortoise as a pet, you will come to realize important things not only about specific species of tortoise but other wildlife in general.

Level of difficulty in raising tortoise

Generally, raising tortoise may require high level of maintenance to the pet keepers. Since tortoise originated in an arid area, bringing them in to colder region may have some effects to the animal. This may require special tortoise care that no other pets require from its owners.

In most cases, tortoise that are bought from irresponsible breeders have poor health condition and may die sooner than its cohorts in the wild. But there are those few responsible breeders who sell quality tortoise that were breed in such a manner that the health of the young tortoise are jeopardized just to produce as many as possible.

Buy from a respected breeder

tortoise care-2One of the biggest mistakes that pet owners do is buying their pets from an irresponsible breeder. But what they didn’t know about these breeders is that they are only after making some money and not taking into consideration the welfare of the animals they produce.

A respected animal breeder knows every aspect of an ethical breeding from choosing the right pedigree to going through the right procedures. Being able to choose a respected tortoise breeder is a one step forward towards responsible pet ownership.

Planning To Buy A Baby Sulcata? Read This First

baby sulcataBuying wild animals, including tortoise, has been a subject of debate for many years now. In fact, several wildlife rescue groups are encouraging the public to avoid buying baby sulcata especially those less than 4 inches.

The issue of buying tortoise has been going around for years now but there are still many people doing it all over the world. With this, the American Tortoise Rescue (ATR) has continuously doing public awareness on the importance of responsible pet ownership.

In a sense, responsible pet ownership encompasses different areas including knowing what pets are allowed by law to be owned. When it comes to tortoise, there are certain species that can be legally acquired while there are also those that must be protected.

Need for concerted effort

baby sulcata-Chart

Without an intensive action and common effort to put an end to the massive poaching of turtles and tortoise, especially those that are considered as endangered species, most of the world’s turtles and tortoise will be extinct in the coming years.

These animals, which have become among the few animals that have lived together with the dinosaurs millions years ago, play a vital role in the ecosystem. Aside from the fact that they are important part to balance nature, they also are very vulnerable to irresponsible poachers of baby sulcata.

In fact, the Turtle Conservation Coalition reported that without a concrete program that would aim to protect their population, some 25 species of turtles and tortoise will become extinct in the next couple of years. To some, this may sound a lesser issue that must concern people, especially with the world’s problems and issues that need more attention than this.

In a separate report, the Species Survival Commission’s Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group (TFTSG) named 25 of the world’s most endangered turtles and tortoise. With the reports from different wildlife conservation organizations, there’s really a need for a common effort to protect these animals from extinction.

A Worldwide Effort To Rescue African Tortoise

Part of being a responsible pet owner is to know every aspect of the animal that one is eyeing to take care of. After deciding that you will bring an African Tortoise, which is also known as the Sulcata Tortoise, there are things that you need to know about the breed that will make your pet’s life more comfortable.

Close cousins of Sulcata

Afican Tortoise Relatives
Where do they come from?

From its name, the African Tortoise are native to almost all areas in the northern teritories of Africa. This species can be found from the desserts of Sahara up to the arid coasts of the Red Sea. This particular tortoise can survive in different type of areas and not only in hot and dry desserts.

Where are they today?

Despite the efforts of different wildlife conservation groups, hundreds of tortoise are being illegally pouched from its natural habitat. Today, you can find sulcata tortoise, especially newly-hatched in different pet shops all over the world.

Worldwide effort to rescue African Tortoise

In this video, you can see that the efforts to keep the population of the Sulcatas are in the ideal number. Different wildlife organizations in the
world are trying to avoid this species to be on the list of critically endangered species.

Preparing The Proper Leopard Tortoise Diet

When deciding to bring home whatever type of pet in your house, including tortoise, the very first thing that every pet owner must look into is the general health condition of the animal. When brining in a new Leopard tortoise, owners must remember that the leopard tortoise diet is a bit different to ordinary house pets.

How to prepare the feeding system for the hatchlings:

leopard tortoise diet-hatchlings

Take note of some health issues

When you are bringing in a new tortoise or any kind of pet for that matter from a pet shop, chances are, these animals are poorly nourished and not getting the right kind of nutrients they should be getting to maintain a healthy body.

A poorly nourished tortoise may exhibit poor health, which is evidenced by a poor shell, obviously even slower movement, and in some cases, presence of different forms of parasites.

Give them the right kind of food

One of the best ways to address this issue is to give your tortoise the right kind of food that’s actually what they would usually eat when in the wild.

What to give


leopard tortoise diet-grassIn the wild, tortoises in general love to eat grasses and other forms of vegetation. Thus, in order to enable your new pet get the right nutrients and required level of energy for their day to day living, you as a pet owner must provide the same type of that these animals eat in the wild. Around 70% of a leopard tortoise diet must comprise of grasses.

What to avoid


no meatOne of the most common mistakes of tortoise owners is giving their tortoise meat-based food such as ground or raw meat. This is absolutely a big no-no. Feeding your tortoise with raw meat can cause different organ illness such as the bladder, liver, among others. This can also trigger unnatural and excessive growth.

Basic Greek Tortoise Care Recommendation

Without a doubt, more and more people are becoming more interested in keeping wildlife animals including tortoise. But different species of tortoise may require specific requirements that are unique to their type like the Greek tortoise care requirements that is really different from any other species of tortoise.

The Greek tortoise, or sometimes referred to as spur-thighed tortoise, got its name because of its huge pointed tubercle on each side of its thigh. Under this species are several substrates that share the species main characteristics.

Anatomy of a tortoise:

Turtle anatomy

Common Characteristics:

  • Varying color
  • Having a carapace which could reach up to 20cm
  • The color of carapace may range from tan to yellowish with a touch of black
  • Its lower shell may have a varying color
  • Its remains body parts have yellowish to brown to grey color.
  • Its head, just like its other body parts, may vary in color
  • It has a noticeable wider scales that overlap each other

They are intolerant of high humid environment, thus, they can do well even when housed indoors. But this does not mean that the keepers should keep them indoors for the rest of their life. Allowing them to roam around in an enclosure is ideal to keep them even healthier.

Just like the smaller species of tortoise, most Greek tortoise care recommendations discourage housing them in an aquarium. Since aquarium limits the free flow of fresh air, which is very important in a growing tortoise, an aquarium is the last place you would put your Greek tortoise in.


Although they are herbivores, the Greek tortoise would need sufficient amount of Calcium to support their daily calcium needs. When in an enclosure, the keeper must ensure that the tortoise are getting the required amount of daily calcium through supplement.


Important Facts About Baby Sulcata Tortoise

baby sulcata tortoise2The breed is not really the best thing to consider when you are thinking of keeping a baby sulcata tortoise as a pet. The sulcata tortoise, which is known for different names such as African Spur or African Spurred, to name a few, is actually the world’s third largest species of tortoise.

This species can actually grow to as much as 200 lbs and can grow for over a century. One of the keys to a successful sulcata tortoise raising is to know every aspect of this species from their diet to their temperate.

Where can you find the vast population of Sulcata Tortoise:

baby sulcata tortoise-map

Ideal living condition

baby sulcata tortoise-wildJust like any other animals, tortoise needs an ideal living condition where it supports their needs from to live healthy. This living condition must be the model for people who are eyeing to keep tortoise. In order to keep a healthy tortoise, giving them plenty of vegetable or anything to eat inside their quarter is good thing to keep them healthy and have something to eat.

Temperature is an important aspect to consider for captive tortoise. Since they originate in a semi-arid climate in Africa, their present living condition must be similar or at least nearer to their living condition in the wild.


baby sulcata tortoiseAnother important consideration for a healthy tortoise is their diet. The common belief of most people is that Sulcatas can eat any fruit, but this is not really the case. Caretakers must take into account that fruits that are high in citric acid are not good for sulcata tortoise.

Bananas and apples are good fruits to give to your tortoise. These are just among the fruits that contain the needed nutrients and minerals that will fuel them and help keep them healthy especially for the baby sulcata tortoise.

Other information

The sulcata tortoise, just like their close cousins can live for centuries. But without proper care and the right food, they may die earlier than usual.

Quick Facts About Leopard Tortoise

Of all the members of the tortoise family, the leopard tortoise is one of the most attractive of them all. Because of its remarkable color, this species of tortoise is considered as one of the most popular and well loved by reptile enthusiasts.

Just like the typical tortoise, this species share the common characteristics of its cousins particularly those belong in the same genus Geochelone. The leopard tortoise got its name because it resembles the spots of a leopard with a combination of black and yellow spots.

When it comes to the general characteristics of this species in the wild, they don’t differ that much as compared to their close cousins. From their temperament to their diet, they basically share these characteristics although with some variations and differences at some points.

One of the closest relatives of this species is the Galapagos Tortoise, which also belongs to the same genus as the leopard. Same with the Galapagos, the leopard can grow very big especially the males. Their expected lifespan in the wild is relatively longer than when captive.

Because of their enormous shell, they require substantial level of calcium to supplement their calcium needs. In the wild, they devour dried bones of dead animals and even dung of hyenas just to meet their high calcium needs.

What experts say about this species:


Quick facts:

Origin: Sub-Saharan Africa

Weight: largest recorded male weighed 43 kilos while 20 kilos for female.

Size: A full-grown male can grow up to 656mm and 498 for females.

Natural Habitat: semi-arid or thorny places. This species and the rest of its cousins also prefer grassy area.

Lifespan: several hundreds of years in the wild. May reduces to a few decades if captive.

Adaptation: Highly-adaptable. Some records show that this species can survive in non-arid areas outside its preferred habitat in Sub-Saharan African area.

Pet Tortoise – A Sulcata Tortoise as a Pet

Having a tortoise as a pet is quite an exotic yet interesting choice. A pet tortoise is something that you wouldn’t really come across with on a regular basis. However, did you know that tortoises have a fascinating history as pets? Due to their life spans which can reach up to over a century, some of them remain with their owner’s families for generations! Isn’t it amazing? For instance, the oldest tortoise known to walk this earth had lived to be 255 years old. Adwaita, an Aldabra giant tortoise lived from the mid-18th century (1750) to the earlier years of the 21st century (23 March 2006). He is said to have been a pet of a general of the British East India Company named Robert Clive. Eventually, he was kept in an Indian zoo for the rest of his life. Other tortoises who share the same feat as Adwaita are Harriet (died at the age of 188)  and Tu’i Malila (lived to be 188). This information just goes to show how your tiny and newly purchased tortoises can have a long life ahead of them. Given that, it is important to provide them with proper care and attention to make sure that they’ll grow healthy. Who knows, your pet tortoise might end up beating one of the records mentioned earlier and find a place in the roster of tortoise nobles.

Sulcata Tortoise as a Pet

Out of all the tortoise species, sulcata tortoises seem to be a popular pet choice for many individuals and families. During recent years, they have been made readily available in the pet industry; thus, their popularity as pets. Raising a sulcata tortoise as a pet can be quite the challenge. There is much that you should learn about them before you considering having one as a pet. That would include doing research about their diet and how to properly care for them. Initially, they will come to you as tiny and adorable pets but wait a few more years for you to behold a dramatic increase in their size. It shouldn’t come as a surprise though. These animals are the third largest of tortoises in the world. Just like any other pet, you should be quite the dedicated owner and give them the attention that they need. If you come to think of it, raising a sulcata tortoise is going to be fun and rewarding for you and your family. Even though the oldest recorded sulcata tortoise is just about 80 years old, keeping them as pets can help you understand how great it is to have an exotic animal as a companion to you and your family.

Sulcata Tortoise Diet – What Should a Sulcata Tortoise Eat?

Providing your sulcata tortoise with a proper diet is important to ensure that they grow healthy. If they aren’t provided with the right food, they might develop health issues which will ultimately cause them to have shorter lifespans. Also, the type of food you give to them can affect how their shells will be formed. Hence, it is apparent how diet truly matters for the development of a sulcata tortoise. Moreover, since these animals are highly herbivorous, a sulcata tortoise diet should be high in fiber and the amount of protein given to them must be regulated. This article will provide you with the necessary know-how so that you can be ascertained that your tortoise can grow up to be healthy pets.

A sulcata tortoise diet should be high in fiber and have very low amounts of protein. Some sulcata tortoise owners might make big mistakes such as feeding their pets with high levels of protein which is not advisable at all. What are some foods that contain a lot of protein? Some examples include dairy products, legumes and grains. A diet with high levels of proteins can cause a sulcata tortoise’s shell to have a pyramided form. It can also be a cause for them to have kidney and liver problems. Hence, before you give your sulcata tortoise something that wouldn’t normally be found in their natural environment, it would be best for you to check the food’s protein content first. Another food to avoid for sulcata tortoises are fruits. Fruits aren’t advisable since the acids and sugars found in fruit can cause essential bacteria found in the animal’s digestive tract to die. Losing such bacteria can be fatal to the well-being of the tortoise.

Feeding your pet tortoise can sure be fun. However, don’t go overboard by overfeeding your pet. Being a reptile, a sulcata tortoise’s metabolism is slow and feeding them with too much food isn’t recommended. The amount of food that they are given should be directly proportional to the amount of exercise they get. If their activity level is low, feeding them everyday is not required. This fact might be difficult to grasp but it is something that you should keep in mind.

So what should a sulcata tortoise eat? Imagine your sulcata tortoise in its natural environment – a dry and hot desert with an abundance of grasses, weeds, leaves and other herbaceous plants. Well, you get the idea right? Sulcata tortoises need to be fed with a high fiber diet. Also, please note that their plant diet should not have any traces of fertilizers and pesticides. Water is of the essence as well! You can place a bowl or saucer filled with water on the tortoise’s shelter to help them keep hydrated throughout the day.

Sulcata Tortoise Care – Giving your Pet the Proper Attention

When you first purchase a sulcata tortoise, caring for it may not be much of a problem. However, as the years goes by, you’ll find how it can get way bigger than you might have imagined. Well, that is to be expected since sulcata tortoises are among the biggest for the species. In fact, they are the third largest of all tortoises. As a pet owner, giving your pet the proper care and attention is important to ascertain that they are healthy and would turn out to be good pets. However, it can come as a challenge especially to new pet owners. Hence, the best thing to do is to know about sulcata tortoise care tips and tricks that will surely make your pet ownership a fun and exciting one.

Sulcata tortoises are native to the southern part of the Sahara Desert. Given that, it is easy to infer that these animals need to be housed in dry and hot areas with an abundance of natural sunlight. Hence, when you are going to set-up your pet’s home, make sure to remember the species’ natural needs for its abode. However, this does not mean that they are used to extremely warm conditions. Sulcata tortoises, in their natural habitat, burrow into the ground whenever temperatures become unbearable. In this manner, they can find areas with higher moisture levels. The suggested temperature levels for these animals would be from 75 to 85 degrees. It is suggested that your tortoise should be kept in an indoor housing facility when the temperature gets colder such as during the night time. When the tortoise gets much bigger, you might want to consider building a suitable home for your pet. The Sulcata Station has a section in their website which can help you with the construction of your pet’s home, just click this link for more information. Moreover, keep in mind that light, especially UVB radiation from the sun, is important to keep these animals active. If they lack exposure from a UVB source, they will end up being sluggish. It is a part of their nature since sulcata tortoises come from a place where sunlight is of abundance. If providing an everyday source of natural sunlight isn’t readily available, then you can purchase an artificial UVB light as an alternative.

Food is another important aspect of sulcata tortoise care. In terms of their diet, these animals are known to be highly herbivorous. Thus, their diet must consist primarily of certain herbaceous plants and vegetables. Water is also needed by these tortoises. Hence, you should provide a saucer or bowl of water in their shelter to avoid them from being dehydrated. You can check our article about the sulcata tortoise diet for a more extensive reference.