Sulcata Tortoise

Geochelone sulcata

Animal Ambassadors


The sulcata, also known as the African spurred tortoise, is the third largest tortoise species in the world, reaching weights of over 200 pounds! They grow quickly when young, doubling in size each year for the first few years of their lives. This hardy tortoise, like all inhabitants of the Sahara Desert, is well-adapted to living with very little water. They get most of the water that they need from the vegetation that they eat, allowing them to go months without drinking directly from a pool. Sulcatas are popular pets, but most people underestimate the needs of these huge reptiles. They require expansive indoor and outdoor housing, as well as specialized diets, lighting, and temperature gradients. It’s also important to consider that these giants are likely to outlive you! This means that arrangements must be made to ensure that someone is willing and able to assume their care if need be. Unfortunately, many people do not make responsible decisions and acquire sulcatas that they can’t care for long-term. Because of the high volume of tortoises in need of homes, most sanctuaries, zoos, and rescues are full and can’t accept more sulcatas.

Grasses, plants, flowers, cactus pads
Sahara Desert
50-8o years / 80-100+ years
Length / Wingspan:
Up to 3 ft
200+ lbs