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Sulcata Tortoises

Animal Essentials

Scientific Name:
Geochelone sulcata
Park Location:
Northern Africa

Amazing Facts

Female tortoises lay their eggs in a shallow pit, cover them with sand and abandon them!
The sex of baby tortoises is determined by the temperature at which they are incubated!
An adult tortoise can survive for up to a year without water.

The Sulcata or African Spurred tortoise is the largest on the African mainland. They are native to the northern parts of Africa; Senegal, Niger, Chad and Ethiopia.

The Sulcata is a voracious eater, a herbivore used to grazing over vast areas of land feeding on grass, weeds, flowers and whenever possible, the prickly pear. Their natural habitat is one of the hottest and driest places on earth and they have evolved so that their thick skin resists fluid loss but also becomes permeable when exposed to moisture. In this way they are able to withstand long periods of drought.

The Sulcata tortoise can be recognized by its broad, flat upper shell, called a carapace. It has spurs on the back of its hind legs, which don’t seem to have any real use. They can grow up to 30” (75cm) long (shell length) and weigh up to 110 pounds (50 kilos). Their fore limbs are flat and heavily armoured and used for burrowing themselves into furrows as they shelter from the heat of the midday sun.

Threat Status

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