African Spurred Tortoise

African Spurred Tortoise

Centrochelys sulcata

Conservation status: IUCN – VU (Vulnerable); CITES – Appendix II.  

Geographic range: Chad, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, South Sudan. 

Physical description: This is the third biggest tortoise in the world. They can weigh from 30 to 100 kg and grow up to 83 cm. Their carapace is round, brownish and made of 59-61 plates. Their spine is fastened to the upper inside of their carapace. The females’ plastrons are flat while males have more concave plastrons. These tortoises have specific spurs on their legs that are used for fighting and digging holes. 

Biology: From hatching, these tortoise are aggressive towards each other and commonly try to turn other individuals over or otherwise hit them from then onwards. The spurred tortoise can dig deep holes in order to protect itself from overheating and is mostly active in the mornings and in the evenings. Females could lay from 15 to 30 eggs, which hatch after about 8 months. Newborn tortoises weigh about 25 g.

Lifespan: 80 – 150 years.

Food habits: Herbivores – eats grass, flowers, cacti. 

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