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African Spurred Tortoise

Centrochelys sulcata
Conservation Status: 
Northern Africa
Desert and semi-arid grassland
The African Spurred Tortoise, also known as the African Spur Thigh tortoise or the Sulcata Tortoise, is a species of tortoise that 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).
The African Spurred Tortoise is native to the southern edge of the Sahara Desert in Africa, where it resides in semi-arid grassland or even in the hot desert. These tortoises cope with the heat by digging burrows that can reach up to 30 inches (0.75 m) in length, where they seek refuge during the hottest part of the day. Some tortoises have even been observed creating burrows as deep as 10 feet (3 m)!
Sulcata tortoises are herbivores. Their diet primarily consists of various types of grasses and plants. Although their diet is high in fiber and low in protein, it provides them with all the necessary nutrients to sustain their enormous size.
Adults of this species typically measure between 24 to 36 inches (60-90 cm) in length, and they experience rapid growth from hatching size (2-3 inches). This rapid growth can pose challenges in the pet trade, as tortoises often outgrow the capacity of their enclosures. The lifespan of an African Spurred Tortoise ranges from about 50 to 100 years, which is another reason why these animals are not suitable as pets. The oldest known tortoise of this species, residing in the Giza Zoological Gardens, Egypt, is 54 years old.