Sulcata Tortoise Care Guide: Everything You Need to Know

It is likely that the Sulcata tortoises native to north-central Africa account for the vast majority of the world’s total tortoise output. Tortoises of the genus Sulcata go by a variety of common names, including “African spurred,” “African spur thigh,” and “spurred.” Although sulcata tortoises were exceedingly rare in the United States just a few decades ago, they have since proven to be remarkably adaptable in captivity, where their inexpensive cost and curious demeanor have made them popular with first-time tortoise owners. Large-scale Sulcata tortoise breeding occurs in the United States, predominantly in the Southern states from coast to coast due to the milder climates and year-round outdoor accessibility. There are various places to find a baby Sulcata tortoise, including pet stores, reptile shows, and the breeders themselves.

Sulcata Tortoise Species Information

The Sulcata tortoise, found only in Africa, is the largest of its kind. It’s also the largest of the species typically suggested as pets. Larger tortoise species should only be kept under the care of experts due to their complex needs.

Where Does Sulcatas Come From?

They can be found in the arid parts of Africa. They are widespread, populating countries from Niger and Chad to Mali and Ethiopia, and from the eastern coast of Africa all the way to the Red Sea.
There is a severe lack of precipitation in this area of Africa. These areas experience dry spells that might continue for years at a time. Tortoises of the Sulcata subspecies have adapted well to life in the harsh desert because of the various disadvantages it presents.

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Big, lumbering Sulcata tortoises, the broad, thick scutes that cover the domed carapaces of these gentle giants are distinctive. They come in a spectrum of colors, from yellow to brown.
The legs of a Sulcata tortoise are coated in bony scales and spurs, and their skin is a creamy or tan to brown color. The heft of their claws makes them walk like a pigeon, which is both amusing and illogical.

How big do Sulcata tortoises get?

The Sulcata tortoise is the largest terrestrial tortoise species in the world. Males can grow to be as long as 36 inches, far larger than females. The average weight of one of these giants is around 200 pounds.

Sulcata Tortoise Life Span

It is yet unclear how old a healthy sulcata tortoise born into captivity might expect to live to, as sulcatas have not been raised from birth for very long. Animals that are grown in captivity benefit from a longer lifespan since they are fed a low-fat, high-fiber diet and kept in a stress-free environment. Sulcata tortoises have been observed to live for over 70 years, which is consistent with other studies.

How Does Sulcatas Behave?

As a result of their long history of adaptation to dry environments, sulcatas now exhibit a unique pattern of behavior. With their massive, scaled feet, they can create extensive underground tube systems. Their tunnels can be as much as 30 inches deep and 10 feet in length. Those who care deeply about their gardens should remember this.
Large and sturdy, sulcatas have no trouble hopping over obstacles like rocks and stumps. They are naturally inclined to investigate their environments, thanks to their high levels of curiosity and intelligence. Regrettably, this often results in disasters, such as toppling over and landing on their backs.

How to Care for Your Pet Tortoise?

The first thing you should do after getting a tortoise is to take it to an exotic animal vet who is familiar with caring for tortoises. The veterinarian will conduct a thorough examination and will likely suggest a fecal exam and blood work. Diseases can easily be transmitted to humans from reptiles, therefore this is crucially vital, especially if the reptiles were illegally brought from another nation.
When you get your new tortoise home, keep an eye out for these symptoms:
Muscular and robust legs are ideal. It’s imperative that the tortoise be able to get up off the floor.
Their beak, gills, skin, and scales should all shine.
Consistently hard and smooth shells are ideal. Examine the scutes for signs of damage, injury, or pyramiding.
Clear, bright, and discharge-free eyes are ideal. There shouldn’t be any discharge or debris in the nostrils either.
There shouldn’t be any mouth breathing going on.
Any tortoise in good health will be sensitive and alert.

Sulcata tortoises are known for their insatiable appetites. As with their native habitat, adult tortoises do best on a diet of a variety of grasses and leaves. The grasses, mulberry leaves, grape leaves, hibiscus leaves, and flowers in the yard are all fair game. Grass hays are a staple diet for larger Sulcata tortoises (we like orchard grass hay). Younger and smaller Sulcatas, who often have weaker jaws, have more trouble chewing through rougher grass and hay. In addition to kale, collard greens, turnip greens, and any of the darker lettuce varieties, we utilize spring mixes (especially with baby Sulcata tortoises), which already contain a variety of leafy elements. Many of our tortoises now rely heavily on cactus pads as a staple food source. To make up for any gaps in the other diet, the Mazuri Tortoise Diet is occasionally made available. Change is the name of the game. Tortoises can be fed on a grassy area, a slab of rock or concrete, or a tray. Never feed tortoises from gravel or dirt to avoid them ingesting soil or rocks.
Animals of the genus Sulcata eat only plant matter. This is to say, they stick to a plant-based diet, free of any insect or animal protein sources.

Summing Up

Your Sulcata tortoise should spend the vast majority of its time outdoors if you live in a warm region. In order to give your tortoise the freedom to roam, you’ll need to construct a large pen or enclosure. Your tortoise will need to be contained within a solid wall or fence.
If you want to keep your Sulcata tortoise safe from escape, make sure the enclosure’s footings are dug deep enough so that your tortoise can’t burrow under the fence. The wall’s height should be around 24 inches, measured from the ground, and the supports should be set into the ground at least 12 inches. In terms of protection, concrete is excellent.

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