Sulcata Tortoise

Basic Information:

Scientific Name: Centrochelys sulcata

Habitat: Sulcata Tortoises are found only in north Africa on the southern edge of the Sahara desert.  

Diet: Sulcata tortoises are herbivores and eat grasses and plants that are high in fiber and low in protein. They are also known to eat flowers, cactus pads, fruits, kale, and lettuce.

Size: 1.5 feet tall / 2 to 3 feet long

Weight: 70 to 100 pounds

Lifespan: 70 to 150 years

Distribution Map:

I.U.C.N. Conservation Status:

What does this mean?

Vulnerable – a species determined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (I.U.C.N.) to possess a high risk of extinction as a result of rapid population declines of 30 to more than 50 percent over the previous 10 years (or three generations), a current population size of fewer than 1,000 individuals, or other factors.

Our Sulcata Tortoises:

Bart (Male) – Estimated Date of Birth Between August 2005 & August 2006
Bob (Male) – Estimated Date of Birth Between 1996 & 2000
Roscoe (Male) – Estimated Date of Birth Between January & July 2000

About Sulcata Tortoises:

Sulcata tortoises are the third largest tortoise after the Galapagos and Aldabra tortoises. Sulcatas live in the extremely arid Sahara desert that spans the a large portion of North Africa and includes countries such as Egypt, Sudan, Chad, Niger, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Mali, and Mauritania. Some of these areas see as little as 0 inches of rainfall over years. Because of this, Sulcata tortoises’ skin is resistant to fluid loss, but when exposed to moisture it becomes highly permeable. This means that these tortoises spend a good deal of the day (when it is the hottest) burrowed more than 2 feet underground where there is more moisture to absorb. They then emerge between dawn and dusk to go about their routine activities. These tortoises are also very aggressive toward each other and males often ram into each other in an attempt to flip other males over.

Did You Know?!

  • Sulcata tortoises are also known as African spurred tortoises.
  • Sulcata tortoises are one of the largest species of tortoise and they easily reach 30 inches in length and well over 100 pounds in weight.
  • Sulcata tortoises are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN red list due to the destruction of their habitats and over grazing by nearby livestock.
  • Sulcata tortoises are commonly kept as pets, but frequently outlive their owners or grow too large to handle.

The Utica Zoo will be closed at 1:00pm on 6/1 for wine in the wilderness and will reopen with normal hours on 6/2!