African Spurred Tortoise

Adult spurred tortoises are generally solitary with limited interaction with other tortoises until breeding season. Males defend a territory and will fight others in competition for a female. In some instances, one (or both) tortoises may become overturned in which case it is quite difficult to flip back over.

Spurred tortoises spend a significant amount of time digging a burrow in which they reside for an entire season. Burrows range in length and may be 5-60 feet long. The moisture inside the burrow helps them survive the harsh, dry conditions outside of the burrow. Although grasses consumed by the tortoises have very little water content, their digestive system is specially adapted to remove all water from the grasses.

African Spurred Tortoise

Centrochelys sulcata

Distribution: The southern edge of the Sahara Desert

Diet in the Wild: Ground level vegetation such as grasses and cacti

Diet at Caldwell Zoo: Varied vegetables, grass and hay

Length: 30 in-36 in (76.2 cm-91.4 cm)

Weight: 100 lbs-200 lbs (45 kg-90 kg)

IUCN Red List Status: Vulnerable, population trend unspecified

Threats: Habitat loss, increased competition for food due to overgrazing by domestic cattle

Interesting Facts:

The African spurred tortoise is the third largest tortoise in the world, behind the Aldabra tortoise and the Galapagos tortoise.

African spurred tortoises will build and hide in burrows approximately 10 feet (3 meters) deep to keep cool in the hot desert climate.

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