African Spurred Tortoise

Biologacal classification

Class: Reptilia

Order: Testudines

Family: Testudinidae


African spurred tortoise is the third largest in the world and the largest tortoise in Africa. The carpace can reach 76 cm in length (the maximum recorded length of the carapace is 83 cm). Males reach weight of 60-100 kg, females - 30-40 (60) kg. The forelimbs have a stem-like shape with 5 claws. Carapace is reddish-brown or brown. Both males and females have 2-3 large horn spurs on hips that caused the name of the species spurred.

Distribution and mode of life

Distributed along the southern tip of the Sahara, from Senegal and Mauritania eastwards through Mali, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia, along the Red Sea in Eritrea and Egypt.

Live in savannas, deserts. The peak of C. sulcata activity occurs in the morning and evening, when the sun's rays are the least intense. Night and the hottest hours the tortoise spents in holes. These holes reach a depth of up to 3 meters, and provide tortoise protection against temperature fluctuations and body saturation with moisture that they get through the skin.

Life-span: 50-150 years


Herbivorous, in the wild feed on succulent plants, leaves of acacias.


Breeding season lasts from June to March, the peak of the season is observed from September to November, immediately after the end of the rainy season. During this period, males become aggressive and arrange ritual fights.

In a few months after the mating, the female lays from 15 to 35 eggs in a shallow hole dug in the soil. Eggs are incubated in the soil from 3 to 4 months. Newborn tortoise are about 4.5 cm in length and weighing 25 to 40 g.

Tortoise become sexualy mature at the age of 12-15 years under conditions that the length of carapace is more than 35 cm.

Conservation status.

The species is on the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (VU - vulnerable), listed on the CITES (Annex II).

In Kyiv Zoo three African spurred tortoise live in the ecological module of the pavilion "Desert". In summer, in warm sunny weather, tortoises are kept in an open enclosure.

African Spurred Tortoise