African spurred tortoise
African spurred tortoises – a species of tortoises, living in southern part of Sahara Desert, northern Africa. It is the third largest species of tortoises in the world, the largest in the mainland area and the only species of tortoises in genus Centrochelys. Adult spurred tortoise may grow to 83 cm and weight up to 105 kg. During its first several years of life it grows very fast, from 2-3 cm, when hatches, up to 15-25 cm. The lifespan of these tortoises – 50-150 years, though they can live even longer!
Spurred tortoises are herbivores, mostly feeding on various grasses and plants, which are full of fibre and little protein. These tortoises also can feed on flowers and other plans, including cactuses. It is not recommended to feed them with fruits.
Spurred tortoises originate from Sahara Desert and Sahel region, where prevail semiarid grasslands, savannas, thorn scrublands – the landscape of Burkina Faso, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan. In these arid regions, tortoises dig burrows in the ground to access environment that has higher moisture levels, and spend the biggest part of hottest days in these burrows. The burrows can reach the depth of 76 cm! Some tortoises can dig underground tunnel systems extending 3 meters.
Spurred tortoises are third in size after Galápagos tortoises and Aldabra giant tortoises.
When keeping these tortoises in captivity, it is necessary to create pleasant living conditions – the temperature cannot be lower than 16 °C, they need to have a comfortable rest zone and receive calcium for healthy formation of the shell. Spurred tortoises do not have a sense of proportion, thus often overfeed.
Spurred tortoises breed when the rainy season ends, on September – November. The males fight for the right to win hearts of the females.
The female starts to look for a safe place for a nest 60 days after impregnation. It digs 4-5 nests within 5-15 days, till it finds a perfect location to lay eggs. Little tortoises hatch after 90-120 days.