The African spurred tortoise, better known as the sulcata tortoise (also known as the African sulcata tortoise) is a small species of soft-shelled tortoise usually living in the southern margin of the Sahara Desert in central Africa. It is probably the second-smallest species of all tortoises, the fourth-largest species in the entire genus, and the smallest species in the entire world. The name ‘sulcata’ is Greek for “shore”. It does not have a shell, because its underwater shell is held together by an external adhesive called a grooved band.
The sulcata tortoise is best known for its ability to endure extreme heat – this is one reason why it lives so comfortably in hot, dry climates in places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Less than an inch long, it is easily camouflaged in hot weather, and due to its extremely sensitive skin (not sensitive enough to feel pain), very few people ever notice that it is alive. This explains why the African spurred tortoises are only brought into the wild in very small groups, because when kept in loose groups in the wild they can easily be eaten by predators. They also easily die of suffocation in overcrowded ships.
This small and arboreal reptile has a thick, shelly hide and powerful jaws, but unlike other reptiles, it possesses no vocal cords – it uses its tongue to help break down food. This feature helps the sulcata tortoise avoid snacking on poisonous prey, but it also means that it must quickly recover from wounds. Because of this slow healing process, this animal is susceptible to a rare condition called metabolic bone disease. When this disease attacks a sulcata tortoise during its molting season, it is often fatal.
Life expectancy varies widely between species. Some can live for twenty years or more, but most average around eight to ten years. Those that live longer have a very healthy lifestyle, because they receive the proper care and nutrition. They eat a well-balanced diet, which includes fruits and vegetables as well as high quality meats and eggs, which are essential for proper growth. They get plenty of water every day and are rarely involved in natural predators – this makes them ideal pets.
A proper care guide for your sulcata tortoise will help you understand how much you should feed your pet, so that it receives all the vitamins and nutrients it needs to grow. This diet is especially important for young ones, who need the vitamins and proteins to stay healthy. This guide will also explain what kinds of supplements to give your turtle, so that you know what foods to avoid, and which to supplement with. If you are unsure about how to give your pet supplements, contact your local vet. Proper care guides will help you choose the right food for your turtle, and it will help you make sure that they have a healthy lifespan.
The average lifespan of a sulcata tortoise is around fifteen years, but some have been known to live longer than twenty years! Some of these turtles reach their natural retirement age of around twenty-five years. When buying a sulcata tortoise from a pet store or a breeder, make sure that the pet store or breeder is not selling a high-grown female tortoise that has a slow growth rate – these slow-growing tortoises are often killed simply because they are unable to produce baby turtles, because they cannot break down the calcium in their shell. With a proper diet, and with protection, your tortoise can enjoy a long and happy life.