Commonly known as an African spurred tortoise, the sulcata is the second largest of the African mainland tortoises, reaching adult weights of up to 200 pounds. Only the Galapagos and Aldabra tortoises get larger.
The pyramid-like spurs on this reptile's protective shell help tell the tale of this animals' health. Malnutrition will lead to the spurs becoming tall, like a pyramid. A healthy tortoise will have a smooth shell, and can live up to 80 years! These cold-blooded reptiles are herbivores, and they graze on fresh grass, flowers, clover, cactus fruits, and a variety of roots and other greens.
Sulcatas nest in the fall and females will use their long, spiky front legs to help dig up to 8 inches into the ground to lay a clutch of up to 30 eggs. About eight weeks later, 4 to 6 centimeter long babies will hatch. Most active at dusk and dawn, sulcatas require warm conditions, and will burrow if temperatures drop too low.
Regarded as a sign of virtue, happiness, and longevity by the people of Senegal, they have long been protected by humans and today can be purchased as an exotic pet. Unfortunately, in recent years they have been vastly oversold by pet stores that don't educate potential owners on proper care, life expectancy, and how large they will grow to be. This leaves many, many animals in need.
Black Pine is home to "Cocoa" and "Puff", both rescued former pets. The sanctuary has turned away dozens more in recent years, unable to provide enough space and food to more than two of these very long-lived, grazing animals.
InfoBox - Sulcata Tortoise
Diet in wild: succulent plants, grasses, flowers.
Life span in wild: Up to 80 years.
Weight: Up to 200 pounds.
Native habitat: Southern edge of the Sahara desert in Africa.