These desert tortoises hail from the grasslands of Africa. They are the third largest tortoise species in the world and can grow to be over 100lbs, with some males exceeding 200lbs. These long lived animals are largely grass grazers and forage for leafy greens, flowers and cacti in the wild. They are mild tempered animals and can make great pets given a proper enclosure where they are prevented from being destructive. Full grown sulcatas can dig deep burrows, which is how they escape the heat and access moisture in their arid homelands. Their burrows can be up to 15m deep and 30m long. In the wild they create their own little gardens - grasses grow around the edges of their moist burrows and provide food for the tortoise, which then feeds the grasses with feces. These burrows are key to providing humidity for the tortioses. Without adequate humidity they can developed deformed shells known as pyramiding, along with other ailments. This is especially true in captivity where heat lamps used to provide basking areas, also dry out enclosures. To help with this, moist sphagnum moss can be added to sleeping dens to increase humidity. Baby sulcatas should be soaked or bathed daily while adults should be soaked once a week.
Turtles and tortoises are an extremely old group of reptiles going back about 220 million years. They're living fossils! They have very tough shells to protect them from predators. Their shells are made up of bones covered by plates called scutes. Scutes, like human fingernails, are composed of keratin. That means tortoises can feel pressure, pain and temperature through their shells (the same way you can feel them through your fingernails). This is vital to their survival which is why it is important to maintain their shells. We suggest using Reptanicals Supple Shell once a month along with proper diet, water and environment to keep your sulcata as happy and healthy as possible.
(African Spurred Tortoise)
Difficulty: Intermediate(mostly due to large adult size)
Size: 70-100 pounds
Lifespan: 100-150 years
Food Preferences: Grasses (70% of diet), lettuce, dandelion greens, mulberry leaves, veggies (in moderation)
Temperature Requirements: daytime temps 80-90*F with a basking area of 100* - nighttime mid 70s
Lighting: UVB 10.0
Breeding: Easy - but not suggested unless you are prepared to care for multiple very large and occasionally destructive animals
Substrate: dried grasses or hay, soil or coconut coil my be provided for digging/burrowing areas
Humidity: 50% in sleeping area (key to preventing pyramiding)
Suggested Products: Reptanicals Supple Shell, fossil water bowl, fossil feeder bowl