Sulcata Tortoise – A Complete Pet Care Guide for Beginners 


One of the most common tortoise species kept as pets is the African sulcata tortoise, often known as the African spurred tortoise. 

They are regarded as the tortoise species that is produced the most in the world due to their popularity.

In captivity, they are resilient species that exhibit unique habits and can adapt to a variety of climatic conditions and environments.

The sulcata tortoise is one of the largest species of tortoise you may encounter. This tortoise has an unmatchable personality, it is very much like a dog, loyal, caring, and lovable so if you like the personality of dogs but want a reptile et the sulcata tortoise will solve this problem for you.

The sulcata tortoise has different names as well, some call it the African spurred tortoise, and it is scientifically known as Centrochelys sulcata.

The Sahel, a transitional ecoregion of semi-arid grasslands, scrub, and savannah in northern Africa, and the Sahara Desert are home to the Sulcata tortoise.

The sulcata tortoise is one of the most beginner-friendly tortoises. In this care guide, you will be provided with all information regarding this tortoise and help you grow a healthy tortoise. 

Sulcata Tortoise

Scientific nameCentrochelys sulcata
Common nameSulcata tortoise and African spurred tortoise
Life span70 years and more
weight36 – 50 kg
coloryellow, tan, and brown
Conservational status vulnerable
Experience levelBeginner 
Temperature 85°F to 105°F
Origin Africa 

Origin Of Sulcata Tortoise

As their name suggests the sulcata tortoise originates from Africa, they are commonly found in the Sahel and Sahara desert as well.

The sulcata tortoise is also found in Northern Africa’s savannah, shrub, and semi-arid grasslands. 

Many nations in Northern Africa, including Burkina Faso, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sudan, are home to the African spurred tortoise.

Natural Habitat of Sulcata Tortoise 

The sulcata tortoise belongs to Africa and is commonly found in the Sahara desert, hence they are used to dry and hot climates with little to no water and less humidity.

The sulcata tortoise digs in the ground and gets shelter. Most tortoises build burrows that are 30 inches deep on average, but some of them will create tunnel networks that are 10 feet or deeper.

These tortoises are prevented from drying out by naturally occurring water conservation mechanisms, such as stringent restriction of urine production, and the generally chilly and wet conditions of their burrows.

Sulcatas have unmistakably evolved to withstand great heat, but little is known about how well they can withstand freezing conditions. 

They appear to be more tolerant of temperature changes than many other turtle and tortoise species, such as the majority of desert tortoises. 

They are intriguing because they actively seek shelter when the weather turns chilly.

Many tropical tortoises would just freeze when exposed to cold temperatures instead of taking active measures to keep their body temperatures stable.

Behavior and Temperament of the Sulcata Tortoise

They will graze for hours during cooler weather since their big bulk demands a lot of energy, grazing is one of the most favorite activities of the sulcata tortoise along with burrowing of course.

They will create large burrows as the weather gets hotter and friendlier so they can hide from the sun in their muddy wallow.

It’s interesting to note that they use their saliva to cool themselves by rubbing it over their arms.

After a chilly night, sulcata tortoises will spend their mornings sunbathing in the sun to elevate their body temperatures.

They are very combative with one another in the wild. Males will ram to assert their authority, and they will attempt to flip each other over. Females often display less hostility, yet it is still possible for them to do so. It is preferable 

With their owners, sulcatas are reputed to be quite social. They can establish bonds with their owners, are able to identify them, and have distinctive personalities. Even for families with small children, the Sulcata tortoise is a wonderful companion since it is calm and interesting.

Do Sulcata Tortoises Require Friends?

Even a baby tortoise may survive in isolation from other individuals of its kind. It’s normally OK to maintain two or more female tortoises together, and it can also be successful to keep one male with two or more females. The tortoise’s shell is more than simply protection.

The Lifespan of Sulcata Tortoise

Sulcata tortoises live a long time compared to other types of pets. They may live for roughly 60 to 70 years, however, there have been instances when they have lived for over 100. Sulcatas grow in ideal settings and typically have longer life spans. 

Sulcata Tortoise Appearance

The spurred tortoise has an oval carapace or shell that is sand-colored.

The two to three cone-shaped spurs on each thigh and the overlapping scales on the front of its forelimbs give it its name.

Adults have a carapace that is typically 18 inches long but can be up to 2 or 3 feet long. 

Color of the Sulcata Tortoise 

While some are somewhat brighter and some are slightly darker, most Sulcatas have the same distinctive yellow, tan, and brown color. On the other hand, albino and ivory variants have much lighter coloring.

Weight of the Sulcata Tortoise

The sulcata tortoise weighs about two hundred pounds which is ninety kilograms, the female weighs less than the males as they are smaller in size compared to the males.

Size of the Sulcata Tortoise

The third-largest species of mainland tortoises in the world are regarded as sulcata tortoises. They normally measure 15′′ tall, 24–30′′ inches wide, and 25–30′′ inches long.

The male sulcata tortoise always tends to be larger than the females, it also varies on the type of diet they are consuming, if the sulcata tortoise diet is lacking nutritious then this factor will affect the sulcatas overall growth and result in the tortoise being smaller than average. 

Shell of Sulcata Tortoise

The shell of the sulcata tortoise is very hard, which protects it from any harm and predators that try to attack it, the shell is brown, light yellow, and tan in color and has tiny bumps on it.

The shell expands all from the neck of the tortoise to its tail.

The form of the shell, or more specifically, the shape of the plastron, should be checked next since males have a concave (curved in) plastron while females have a flat plastron.

The cause of this variation is also tied to mating behavior since, to retain some equilibrium, the male must topple the female.

The Texture of Sulcata Tortoise  

The skin of a Sulcata tortoise is often quite wrinkly and dry. That makes it difficult to determine whether your turtle is dehydrated.

There are areas of scales that have solidified and have a little rough feel on that wrinkled skin.

The majority of tortoises are brown or gray, although owing to captive breeding, various variants are possible.

Legs and Claws

The legs of the sulcata tortoise are usually said to replicate an elephant’s feet, this is because they are huge and bulky they also have strong nails that make them appear as if they are of an elephant. 

Some people clip the nails of the sulcata tortoise, but this is not necessary, sometimes it even causes infections in the tortoise. 

Sulcata Tortoise Tail

Sulcata males have longer, skinnier tails, whilst females have shorter, thicker tails.

Small pet tortoises are frequently housed in close quarters with one another, and on occasion, some of them may mistake another tortoise’s tail for something they may eat and bite it.

This causes the turtle to have a smaller tail as an adult than it normally would.

Although tortoises spend very little time with other tortoises and have far more room than other animals, this is nonetheless possible in the wild.

Therefore, be careful to examine that tail well and determine whether it appears to be complete; otherwise, you risk confusing the gender of your turtle.

Cloaca of Sulcata Tortoise

Firstly you may question what a cloaca is, well it is basically the butt, which contains numerous blood arteries; hence, the most effective route to obtaining oxygen is through the cloaca, hence the name cloacal respiration.

Even though all cloacas seem similar, the cloaca, which is the posterior orifice that serves as the only opening for the digestive, reproductive, and urine tracts, may be very useful in determining whether a sulcata tortoise is male or female. 

Males’ cloacas are located closer to the end of their tails than those of females, who have them closer to the base. Even more than this, tortoises and turtles use their cloaca for tasks like breathing underwater.

How to Tell If Your Sulcata Tortoise is Male or Female?

There is no one ideal approach to differentiate between sulcata tortoises. 

The greatest thing you can do is take a look at all of the differences we covered and try to estimate as accurately as you can.

If you carefully observe such changes, you will typically identify the gender of the tortoise. There is no other method to identify the gender of a tortoise, therefore even scientists utilize the distinctions we mentioned above.

The length of the claws, the shell’s form, the length of the tail, the location of the cloaca, and the snout’s shape are the greatest indicators of a sulcata tortoise’s gender. Sulcata tortoises have varied physical traits for males and females.

If you look side by side and compare their shells you will easily be able to identify the male and the female but there is a certain time after which you really see the changes.

The majority of the variations between male and female sulcata tortoises, as you may have seen, have to do with reproduction, therefore when a tortoise reaches maturity is the optimum time to attempt to identify its gender.

Conservation Status

According to the IUCN, the foremost conservation body in the world, sulcata tortoises are now classified as vulnerable.

Loss of habitat and excessive collecting for the pet trade pose threats to them.

Sulcata tortoises’ Role in the Food Chain

There are hardly any real predators of sulcata tortoises. The only parts of them that appear outside their shells are the soles of their rear feet and the front surfaces of their scaled forelegs.

Compared to other predatory animals, they are more vulnerable to their hostile environment and people.

The sulcata tortoise eats herbs and vegetables, Sulcata tortoises are grazing, herbivorous tortoises that require a diet high in fiber and low in protein. Giving them a variety of grasses and hays, which should make up at least 75% of their diet, as well as certain edible weeds and flowers like dandelions, clover, endive, and cactus pads will help with this.

So the sulcata tortoise eats grass and other greens and they are eaten by animals such as Coyotes, kit foxes, badgers, skunks, raccoons, and opossums.

Care Guide for Pet Sulcata Tortoise

While keeping a sulcata tortoise as your pet you should take the following steps into consideration.

Sulcata tortoises are good pets with a very docile nature and loveable attributes.


The African spurred tortoise employs burrowing as a means of cooling down and soaking up water in the wild, where it lives in its native environment. To also avoid the intense heat, many other desert creatures will take over their burrows.

Their burrows can go down as much as ten feet, so it is vital that you provide your tortoise an enclosure that replicates this environment.

Outdoor Eclosure for Sulcata Tortoise 

You will only be able to give your turtle a burrowing enclosure only if you house them in your garden or yard. The optimal environment for these giant tortoises is access to a sizable outside enclosure. They require a strong, two-foot-tall fence. In an outdoor cage, the fence should be extended underground at least a foot because they can dig pretty efficiently. A doghouse or small shed may serve as shelter from the weather, and you can also include a muddy wallow for your turtle to urinate and soak in.

An outdoor enclosure must be at least 100 square feet in size.

Because sulcatas are highly powerful, the barriers must be solidly constructed. Cinder Blocks can be used to increase the wall’s stability.

Due to their love of climbing, sulcata tortoises should have access to logs, rocks, and other elements in their enclosure. Their den should include more hiding spots.

A shallow water dish is a suitable alternative.

It may be a good idea to provide them with a heated outside shed or greenhouse where they may dwell during the cooler months. A room will probably need to be set aside for an adult sulcata if you decide to bring one inside.

The Indoor Enclosure of Sulcata Tortoise 

Until your new tortoise is big enough to flee predators, sulcata tortoises should be kept inside.

Despite the sluggish growth of this tortoise, it is preferable to start with a very large tank because they will outgrow smaller tanks rather quickly and it is also a one-time investment rather than having to buy them again and again as your tortoise grows.

A good fifty-gallon large tank will do justice to your pet tortoise sulcata tortoise.

Due to their size, it might be impractical to keep adult sulcata tortoises indoors, but if you live in a colder location, you will need to give them a warm environment by adding heaters in the enclosure of the tortoise.

For a baby sulcata tortoise enclosure, you should choose one which is at least 36′′ wide by 18′′ deep and 19′′ tall.

The Substrate for Sulcata Tortoise

A new sulcata tortoise cage should have a substrate that retains humidity but doesn’t mildew. For sulcata tortoises, topsoil, coconut coir, cypress mulch, orchid bark, and mulch are the best substrates.

Digging up the natural substrate from your yard should only be done with material that is from an area free of pesticides and herbicides.

Sulcata shouldn’t be bedding in the hay. Hay will mold in the needed high humidity.

Sulcata tortoises thrive on a range of dry surfaces in captivity and inhabit arid environments in the wild. Substrates like ReptiSand®, Eco Earth®, and Forest FloorTM are all available. It’s crucial to provide your tortoise with both humid and dry regions in their cage.

Bad substrates for sulcata tortoise 

Never use shavings of cedar or pine. These two kinds of wood both contain potentially dangerous oils.

Avoid utilizing pellets as tortoises have difficulty walking on them, sand as the sulcata tortoise should never live on sand alone this damages their eyes and causes numerous health diseases, and newsprint as the tortoise might eat it and fall sick, Fiber because  Easily becomes dusty and moldy; exposure to these circumstances might have negative health effects, wood as Splinters from it are given to tortoises, and if they consume them, they might suffer serious harm, as well as a substrate that contains fertilizers or chemicals.

How much substrates to add to the enclosure? 

For your Sulcata tortoise, you should have 2 to 5 inches of substrate. They will have enough area, as a result, to dig themselves a hole and hide there. 

What to look for in a substrate? 

The substrate must have a moisture content between 30% and 50%. The amount of humidity has a vital role in controlling the tortoises’ body temperature and water retention so you must heed this. Dehydration may result from having it too low, while an infection in their shell may result from having it too high. When selecting a substrate, take into account:

Here are a few things you can do to keep a good substrate for the sulcata tortoise

  • You must keep track of the substrates’ humidity level by purchasing a moisture meter, you can find this at any pet store in your area.
  • When the substrate starts to smell or starts to hold too much water, you should change it.
  • You won’t need to change the substrate as frequently if you regularly clean their cages.

Decor and Hiding Spot

Add some plants to the cage since tropical tortoises are native to highly hot regions with thick foliage and poor ground visibility (i.e., lots of undergrowth)

We then add some inexpensive plastic children’s play bark, which you can purchase at garden shops (we typically choose the lightest variety), and then we layer natural flora like grasses or little shrubs on top of all of that (which are more difficult to dig out).

If a suitable hide box is not available as a cool refuge during the summer or a warm retreat during the winter, sulcata tortoises will burrow.

Lighting and Basking Spot

Sulcata tortoises actively bask in warm climates, thus they naturally receive a lot of UVB radiation from the sun. 

Their cage’s UVB must reflect that. A fluorescent UVB tube with a reflector should be positioned within the vivarium to guarantee that no UVB is lost. The tube should provide at least 10% UVB for desert species. There are two types of fluorescent tubes: T8 and T5.

T5 tubes, which are more recent than T8 tubes, offer more light and UVB. Furthermore, T5 UVB has a far wider spectrum than UVA.

UVB is necessary for tortoises to synthesize vitamin D3 in their skin. The calcium that is necessary for bone formation and structure is absorbed by the tortoise with the aid of vitamin D3. Because of this, reptiles that are not given enough UVB exposure might develop the metabolic bone disease (MBD).

It is possible to employ combined heat and UVB flood lamps (mercury vapor) over tables and to create a basking area in a room..

Temperature and Humidity

One of the primary causes of the emergence of several illnesses is the failure to keep Sulcata warm enough (such as respiratory infection and shell deformity). Sulcatas in captivity require a hot, dry climate all year round. 

Sulcatas do not hibernate, unlike tortoises. Despite the fact that they can endure some remarkably low weather.

They cannot be left outside in cold, moist conditions or allowed to get both chilly and wet weather. The recommended range for daytime temperatures is 29°C to 40°C (85°F to 105°F). In the night their cage, temperatures can fall as low as 21°C to 26°C (70s F). Keep Sulcatas dry at all times.

By spraying the substrate at night, it is possible to achieve the appropriate relative humidity levels of 40–60% during the day and 70–80% at night.

How to Maintain Temperature

Tortoises require a warm setting for daytime sunbathing. To do this, clear spot bulbs are placed at one end of the vivarium (or over a table). To achieve the required basking temperature of 100°F to 110°F, we use a basking lamp (100w in a 46″ vivarium).

The power of a basking bulb is more affected by the room’s temperature than by a table. To keep basking lamps on for 10 to 12 hours each day, a dimmer thermostat is needed.

These tortoises require a decrease in temperature and complete darkness at night. They may get as low as 80F.

By utilizing a ceramic night light, a temperature of 70°F is produced at night. These do not create light, only heat radiation.

A bulb protector should be used to safeguard this bulb, and a high-quality thermostat should be used to control it. When the temperature in the vivarium dips at night, the thermostat will automatically switch on the ceramic heat lamp.

A thermometer should be used every day to check the temperature

Cleaning the Enclosure

Sulcata tortoises do tend to make a mess so daily soft cleaning is crucial.

For daily cleaning remove any uneaten food and also pick up the tortoise litter, try to take the sulcata tortoise out of its enclosure for this.

Remove the water tray or bowl and change its water. The sulcata tortoise also excretes in water and drinks the same water so it is really important to change it on a daily basis.

Every day, wash and refill the food bowl. You may sterilize the bath, the enclosure, and other equipment by using one of the various reptile disinfectants available.

It is best practice to perform a complete substrate replacement every few months. While the table is empty, this is also an excellent opportunity to repair any broken lining, clean any pebbles or hides, and sanitize the table.

Diet of Sulcata Tortoise

“Eating machine” is the term most frequently used by sulcata owners to describe their tortoises.

Sulcatas spend the entire day grazing and foraging. They must be allowed to feed on weeds and grasses in captivity that are free of pesticides and herbicides.

Hay and Grass

Sulcata tortoises need to be able to graze on hay and grasses. Shrubs, edible flowers (such as nasturtium, geranium, hibiscus, and rose petals), cheatgrass, clover, and grass cuttings free of pesticides and herbicides should make up 90% of their diet.

Leafy greens and vegetables

Other lush green veggies in moderation are also acceptable. give your tortoise less of the oxalates-rich foods that include spinach, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, mustard, and beet greens.

Every one to two days, you should give your tortoise a salad of different leafy greens and vegetables in addition to the grasses and weeds in its surroundings. Since this mostly relies on the age, size, and health of your tortoise, consult your veterinarian to make sure you’re providing the right type and quantity of food.

Sulcata Tortoise Eating grass
Image Source: FreePik

About 10–15% of the diet should consist of vegetables. Grated raw carrots, winter squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, broccoli, corn on the cob, and greens like collards, dandelions, escarole, romaine, and kale can all be included in this list.

Fruits for Sulcata Tortoise 

Fruits ought to be given in moderation as a treat. These often include a lot of sugar and water, which Sulcatas aren’t used to getting in the wild. Strawberries, slices of organically produced bananas with skin, cantaloupe with the rind on, berries, peaches (no pits), apricots (no pits), pears, and apples are suitable for serving as snacks.

Bright colors appeal to Sulcatas, so always include at least one colorful meal in your assortment. Additionally, you must keep them away from anything that isn’t edible and is vividly colored!

You can also sprinkle a powdered form of the supplement on your tortoise’s food if your tortoise is denying to eat supplements. 


Small water dishes are permissible for Sulcata tortoises in their outdoor habitats. We utilize glazed shallow, low-sided dishes that are simple to clean.

Cleaning must be done often because most tortoises like to defecate and wallow in their plates. Also, offer little “mud holes” and puddle places for the tortoises to sit in during the hot months in order to remain cool. In regions where it rains frequently, tortoises drink from puddles and leaves.

It is preferred not to leave standing water in the bowls when sulcata tortoises are kept indoors since they frequently urinate while bathing in them.

The tortoises often start drinking right once and cleanse their systems simultaneously in shallow water.

To completely hydrate them, they must be submerged outside the enclosure once or twice a week for 15 to 30 minutes in shallow, warm water.

Health Problems of Sulcata Tortoise

The sulcata tortoise is easy to care for pets so there are not a lot of problems when it comes to its health, but there are a few diseases that you should look out for.

Metabolic Bone Disease 

A severe condition that affects tortoises and other reptiles is a metabolic bone disease. 2 Bone softening and brittleness can result from an imbalance in the phosphorus-to-calcium ratio of the animal. If not adequately treated, this illness can result in abnormalities and finally death.

Respiratory Problems

Sulcata tortoises, like many other reptiles, are susceptible to respiratory illnesses, especially if they are housed in very humid settings. Additionally, shell rot is a prevalent issue with tortoises and turtles in general. This typically results in a flaky, dry shell due to a fungal infection.


The most frequent issue with captive African-spurred tortoises is the pyramiding of the carapace scutes (Centrochelys [Geochelone] sulcata).

This illness has traditionally been attributed to a diet that is overly heavy in protein, yet this diet may make matters worse. According to C.S. Wiesner and C. Iben, the primary issue can be brought on by insufficient humidity. In any event, steer clear of high-protein diets since they can lead to weight gain and kidney issues, including renal failure.

Fungal or Bacterial Infections

Plastron and skin infections caused by bacteria or fungi can occur in Sulcatas housed on a too moist substrate.

A herp veterinarian can offer guidance and the appropriate course of therapy if you notice lesions (such as white spots) or loose scutes, or if you smell anything bad emanating from the skin and shell.

Usually, you have to treat the afflicted regions as well as adjust the environmental factors.

Can you House Sulcata Tortoise with Other Reptiles

A creep is a collection of tortoises that cohabitate. In the wild, tortoises are solitary creatures that frequently reside alone. You might wonder if your pet turtle might welcome some company if you have one.

Tortoises can’t coexist with turtles or snakes, but they can survive in the same habitat as some lizard species provided their needs for heat and humidity are compatible.

Male tortoises should never be kept together since they will fight. Although several females can coexist, two separate species of tortoises should never be paired.

Reproduction of Sulcata Tortoise 

The first thing a female does is dig a pit with her front legs. The hole usually has a deeper slope on one end and resembles the beginning of a tunnel when it is up against a wall of a pen, for example. The female then enters the pit from behind and uses her back legs to dig out the egg chamber. She then places the eggs in the nest and carefully closes it.

The Breeding Season

Since it begins in January and lasts until December, the mating season for sulcata tortoises lasts all year long. The majority of male sulcata begin mating in February on average. Additionally, if a male sulcata sees a female, or even just sometimes, he will attempt to mate with her.

During this time, the male will contend with the females for supremacy and will frequently make noise when mating.

sulcata tortoise Mating
Image Source: FreePik

Mating Habitat

The sulcata tortoise’s mating procedure in the wild begins with the male following the smell trail of the female until he locates his prey. Then the courting will start. Male sulcata tortoises will repeatedly bite, ram, and butt each other in an effort to gain control over the females.

The female will withdraw within her shell and quit trying to flee after taking the bites. The male will then take the girl into the air.

The male will also mate with the female in captivity using the same technique. However, if the male repeatedly hurts the female, the breeder must intervene and transfer the animal. You might try reintroducing the man after treating her wound.

The Gestation Period Of Sulcata Tortoise

The environment and the circumstances around the nesting affect a tortoise’s gestation period frequently. The fertility of the eggs frequently decreases with each passing season; tortoises can continue to lay viable eggs for up to four years after mating. 

When Do the Sulcata Tortoise Lay Their Eggs

Sulcata tortoises often search the outdoors for appropriate nesting locations before beginning to lay their eggs. This is because the nesting site is utilized for incubation. They require a location with well-drained soil and daily sunshine.

Before selecting a location for their nest, female sulcatas frequently use their noses to prod the ground. It is to gauge its temperature and kind of soil.

Sulcata tortoises’ females can produce many batches of eggs each year. Sulcatas can lay two clutches, spaced a few weeks apart, after using their legs to create a nest that is about 4 inches deep. They need 90 to 120 days to fully incubate.

In a single season, certain sulcatas can even produce five clutches of eggs. For captive sulcata, a clutch typically contains 12–24 eggs. For wild sulcata tortoises, a normal clutch consists of 4 to 8 eggs

The eggs typically have firm shells and are oblong and dull white in appearance. The sulcata tortoise will carefully cover the nest location with her hind legs after laying the eggs.

It’s possible that your tortoise is egg-bound or that the earth is too hard if you see her digging many incomplete nest holes but not producing any eggs. She can be examined and treated by a veterinarian.

How to Care of Eggs of Sulcata Tortoise?

How you will care for your sulcata tortoise eggs is the next issue you should be concerned about. Sulcata tortoises’ females typically lay a clutch of 12 to 24 eggs after nesting. Before the eggs hatch, you must maintain them at a specific temperature and humidity level.

Some Factors to be Considered Before Keeping a Sulcata Tortoise


As others have noted, this species grows to be rather huge. Once they reach adulthood, it is not a breed that can be kept indoors without difficulty. Heck, they dwarf the majority of other tortoise species even when they are just halfway grown! “Normal” weight is 150 lbs. It is uncommon knowledge that these tortoises can regularly grow to be noticeably larger (or heavier) than this because so few people retain them for their entire lives.


Their longevity is equivalent to giant psittacines (50–70 years, perhaps more? ), like that of almost any tortoise. There is a good probability the tortoise will outlast you unless you acquired it when you were a little child yourself. Therefore, you must remember this pet in your will and make plans for its upkeep after your passing.


Although certain adult tortoises are more likely to dig than others, you should still take the required safety measures to prevent this from happening. It takes more effort to build the cage for such an adult sulcata than it does for a goat, horse, or cow, in some aspects. A tortoise will simply plow through until it encounters a force greater than itself, unlike hoof stock, which will typically perceive traditional fences as barriers and not “press” the issue.


Finding a tortoise species with an outgoing disposition can be challenging. There will always be exceptions (my tiny sulcata is one! ), but most animals learn to tolerate regular handling and petting and are rarely timid.


Sulcatas are relatively hardy tortoises once you get beyond the somewhat challenging hatchling stage and past the 1-year hump. They can survive and adapt to the majority of outdoor climates, including humid Florida and dry Arizona. Diet can also be rather tolerant once their environmental needs are satisfied. These really are grazers and browsers, after all. Most weeds and grasses outside are edible for them, so you are merely adding vegetables to their diet during the summer.

Cost of Sulcata Tortoise

The sturdy and amiable Geochelone sulcata species of tortoise. It originated in sub-Saharan Africa and entered the valuable pet trade in the 1990s. It has a beautiful appearance, is engaging, and costs between $50 and $1,000.


Make sure that owning an exotic pet is permitted in your state before purchasing one. You don’t want to bond with a new pet only to learn that keeping it is prohibited later. If you keep an illegal pet, you risk receiving a hefty fine.

Sulcata tortoises are permitted as pets in Florida. However, a license is needed to own a desert tortoise. Due to their similar characteristics and resemblance in appearance, desert and sulcata tortoises are frequently mistaken for one another.


Giant, sluggish, and clever reptiles are sulcata tortoises.

Due to their huge scutes, oval shells, and shielding spurs, they are simple to identify. Their popular names, African spiked turtle and Spur Thigh Tortoise are derived from these spurs. The third-largest breed of tortoise in the world is the Sulcata. When fully grown, this species can reach heights of over 30 inches and weights of more than 150 pounds.

Keepers ought to be informed that males can weigh up to 200 pounds before making a purchase. They are a lifetime commitment because they have a lifespan of over 100 years.

One of the friendliest breeds of tortoises is this outgoing, friendly variety. For seasoned hobbyists who are prepared to keep a pet for a long time, they make a great pet.


How fast do sulcata tortoises grow?

Sulcata tortoises have such a slow metabolism and very slow growth.
They might take approximately ten years to reach adult size due to their lengthy existence.
How quickly your pet grows depends on a variety of factors, including diet, temperature, and enclosure.
Pets typically grow more quickly than wild tortoises because they have consistent access to nutritious food. Pets typically grow to full maturity in 6 to 10 years. They take nearer to 15-20 years to attain their full size in the wild, which is nearly twice as long.

Are sulcata tortoises high maintenance?

Particularly when contrasted to other exotic reptile species like snakes, they are not demanding pets.
Constructing an outside enclosure is the most challenging aspect of Sulcata tortoise care.
This species requires a more than 200-square-foot outdoor enclosure. In addition, they require a sizable indoor kennel with additional heating if the outside temperature is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
After setting up their enclosure, taking care of them is simple.

Do sulcata tortoises like to be handled?

Individuals typically weigh between 70 and 200 pounds, making them too big to handle. While a baby may be small enough then to hold, handling is very stressful for babies and should therefore be avoided unless absolutely essential.
Other than holding it, your tortoise can be handled in a variety of ways.
Adults can be educated to accept food through your hand and frequently pick out their owners. Many tortoises like to have their shell or neck scratched.

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