African Spurred Tortoise: Everything You Need To Know

Caring for African Spurred tortoises, especially when they are young, is quite easy and affordable, but in the long run, it could be quite expensive and time-consuming when they are bigger and heavier. As babies and juveniles, African Spurred Tortoises are quite covered pets; they can be kept in a smaller enclosure such as a ten or twenty-gallon tank or terrarium.

African Spurred Tortoise or also known as Sulcata Tortoises can live between 70 and 100 years!

Keeping African Spurred Tortoises As Pets

Before you get into a situation that may surprise or worsen you later, you should consider the practicality of owning more than one of these adorable African Spurred Tortoises. Here are some reminders:

  • Keep in mind that these cute little creatures will grow fast and require a lot of attention and time. Not only will you have to consider the size it can grow to (which is a huge 150-pound tortoise that will require a little heavy work), but you’ll also have to take into account the available space you have at home, which can then be swamped with tanks and aquariums if you are not considerate.
  • As mentioned above, African Spurred TortoiseS that are well cared for in captivity can be expected to live for more than 70 to 100 years. Make sure you are ready for a very long-term commitment because these pets can probably outlive you.
  • Kindly note that it is also illegal to release a tortoise in the wild. If an individual is caught, one could receive a hefty fine, so if you feel overwhelmed by the baby African Spurred Tortoises you bought or produced, you will have to do the right thing by researching and looking for ways to properly disperse them, and not just throw them away.
  • Think about how many you can handle until the time they get larger and older before buying many of these pets.

Behavioral Characteristics In The Wild And In Captivity

African Spurred Tortoises are the softest pets a caretaker can have, much more than a very friendly dog or cat! They are perhaps one of the world’s least threatening animals both in captivity and in the wild. Personally, I think “attacking” is not in their vocabulary, and this is mainly due to their slow movement.

As we all know, they only hide inside their tough hard shells or probably use their thick-skinned scaly spurs from time to time to help them when they feel like they’re being threatened by predators in the wild, which is perhaps the best defensive strategy.

They literally carry their own shelter wherever they go, making them live longer and feel safe, even if they possess no significant attack or offensive skills compared to other reptiles or animals.

They are very hardy tortoises, which is part of the reason why they are so popular. These cute bunches are very active, start eating right away, and also have an amazing shell compared to other tortoises or tortoises.

In the wild and even in captivity, African Spurred Tortoises love to hide and dig large burrows just to get away from the extreme heat of the sun, especially for those tortoises that live in drier areas and hostile environments like the Sahara desert, tropical forests, and forests. where most African Spurred Tortoises can be found.

African Spurred Tortoises also have huge claws on their legs, making them very important creatures in the desert environment in which they lived because, since they are the ones that can dig deep holes, other animals tend to share that shading if not they can come out because it is too hot.

Other desert animals like snakes, monitor lizards, iguanas, and other reptiles help each other and even live in the bottom of burrows that is about 60 feet deep. Most tortoises spend hot and cold days underneath these burrows.

African Spurred Tortoises are semi-desert to desert species because they are the type of pets that like dry environments, but that doesn’t mean they don’t provide them with water or a cooling area.

You will learn more about how to set up an enclosure for your tortoises in the next chapters. Since they are naturally adapted to a higher temperature, they have found a way to survive despite the harsh conditions when going out only if the temperature in the desert is correct, which is generally around dawn and dusk.

Nocturnal animals are those that are active during the night, while day animals are those that are active during the day, but African Spurred Tortoise falls into the corpuscular category, which are species that are neither nocturnal nor diurnal because most of the time they stay under the burrow that they unearthed using their huge claws waiting for the right moment and the perfect temperature to go out and explore the outside world.

Interaction With Other Species

African Spurred Tortoises are reptiles of uniform temperament that could share space with their species and some other species of tortoises or younger tortoises, given that they are provided with enough space to comfortably house them.

Many hobbyists aim to integrate many of their reptile pets into a habitat, and while this is possible and often successfully accomplished by experienced keepers, tanks housing mixed species of tortoises or reptiles can be very difficult to keep clean, it is quite expensive and can also be a waste of time.

Although African Spurred Tortoises are very friendly and do not appear threatening to humans, they can show aggressiveness towards other tortoises species, especially when their territory is threatened or if food is not enough within the enclosure because it can obviously create competition.

It may show its innate anger and take advantage of other species if it stays with other tortoises, but as long as you provide them with more than enough space as they grow and provide them with a good amount of food and other necessities to live a comfortable captive life, then you will not have problems to lodge them in a habitat.

If you plan to host multiple species or African Spurred Tortoises in one tank, you will need to follow a strategy designed to help them feel comfortable with each other.

You may need to provide a lot of extra space with plenty of hiding places and barriers visible; You should also make sure that all species are fed separately to ensure that each is adequately fed.

No socialization or interaction is needed before mixing them with other tortoise species because they can get along quite well, however, if new species need to be quarantined to prevent the spread of possible diseases.

Pros And Cons Of Keeping African Spurred Tortoise


  • Docile, quiet and non – threatening creatures even if it is not trained or socialized
  • Requires no supervision, provided that its enclosure is safe and secured
  • Keeping them is not that costly and not hard to maintain during its early years
  • Suited for expert keepers and beginners alike
  • Mostly available in local pet shops or reptile conventions
  • Very easy to feed; they are vegetarian and commercial foods are also available in reptile shops or major pet stores
  • Unlikely to get ill with appropriate care
  • Doesn’t shed and doesn’t need to be groomed
  • Very fun to keep and easy to raise especially when they’re still hatchlings or juveniles


  • Growth may be relatively hard to manage since it can get huge and heavier over time.
  • Costs for food, caging and other materials when they reach adulthood could become relatively expensive.
  • May not be an ideal pet if you only live in a small house because it needs lots of space as it grows; this pet is ideal for keepers who have a backyard
  • They may need supervision once it reaches adulthood
  • Keeping more than one tortoise can be harder to maintain in the long run and also time-consuming
  • If you become a breeder of these species, you need to make sure that you can take care of all the hatchlings as they grow up because it’s hard to find rescue centers, put them up for adoption or even give them to people if you won’t be able to handle their needs one day.
  •  Can live up to 100 years or more which means that long – term commitment is needed.

Costs Of Owning A African Spurred Tortoise

The African Spurred Tortoise is a relatively affordable pet, hence its great popularity. The advantage of getting an African Spurred Tortoise is that it can be easily obtained for as little as $20 at a pet store.

If you choose to purchase it from legitimate reptile breeders, you can expect a price that ranges from $ 50 to $ 80, depending on the breeder, as well as the age of the tortoise.

Again, you should consider the availability of space in your home, as these tortoises can become quite large as they mature. If you want to buy it at a more affordable price, you can choose to search online if there is an African Spurred Tortoise in your area that is being put up for adoption.

There are also non-profit and rescue organizations that you should visit because rescuing one can be really beneficial to the environment and you can get them for a relatively cheaper or even free price.

At first, it could cost you around $125 or more for your housing needs, which usually includes a 10-20 gallon tank or DIY tortoise table complete with other cage materials for decorations and a bowl of water.

Heaters, UVB lights, sunbathing platforms, caches, substrate, and other additional accessories needed could cost roughly $300.

You will probably spend around $40 a week for 30 pounds of vegetables and fruit unless, of course, you choose to feed them with grass or weeds found in your backyard.

They can live with that, but as caregivers, it’s probably best to provide them with foods that have the right nutrients so they can grow healthy.

Be sure to take into account the costs of maintaining the cage to remove dirt and bacteria (especially in their water bowls). Tortoises poop a lot (that’s basically because they are herbivores, they tend to digest and defecate food easily), which means that their tank or enclosure needs to be cleaned at least every other day to avoid the incidence of parasites, infections, and rot.

You will also want to factor in the annual electricity costs of maintaining a clean, warm, lighted, and conditioned terrarium for the needs of the African Spurred Tortoise.

You should also purchase a placement container if you are breeding your African Spurred Tortoises. You can buy some type of reptile container or a standard placement container at pet stores. The breeding costs will vary by quality, so you should budget around $50 or more for these additional costs.

Breakdown Of Costs:

  • African Spurred Tortoise species: $20 – $80 or more
  • 10 to 20-gallon tank/ tortoise table + caging materials (wood, glass terrarium, plants, water dishes, cage decorations, cleaning materials) more or less $130 
  • Bedding or substrate: $5-$6 per bag
  • Heaters/Heat pads: around $50
  • Basking Lamp/UVB bulbs: $30-$40
  • Hiding Spots: $5 – $10 hatchlings
  • Food: Average of $40 per week for a 30-pound bag
  • Lying bin and additional breeding materials: $50
  • Total Cost: Around $300

Legalities Of Keeping

There are varying degrees to which African Spurred Tortoises are legally protected, but due to continued illegal capture in certain areas, it may still be a threat to this species.

You really don’t need to get a license if you decide to keep or breed these adorable creatures because they are listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which means they can be traded for commercial purposes, but they are not They can take from nature unless it has the approval of wildlife organizations or authorities.

Since tortoises like African Spurred Tortoise are included in the Appendix II category, it also implies that you will not be allowed to transport these tortoises from one country to another if you do not have an export certificate from wildlife organizations and your country of origin.

You must also secure an import certificate in the destination country.

If you want to travel or transport your pet tortoise, you must have these certificates to satisfy the authorities that your pet is legally obtained. It may vary from state/country to another, but authorities may need to verify the document that establishes the name and identity of your African Spurred Tortoises.

You must also indicate your name, address, contact information and other personal information that will be kept for future reference and also for legal purposes.

If as a caretaker or breeder you do not comply with CITES regulations, authorities have reason to automatically confiscate tortoises from your pets, pay a fine and even face imprisonment (danceable).

If you are going to buy or sell African Spurred Tortoises from other countries, you will need an import authorization to ensure that they are legally imported.

Tortoises that are traded in other countries can sometimes be difficult for authorities to tell whether or not they are wild or captive-bred specimens that sometimes contribute to illegal importation.

Feeding Your African Spurred Tortoise

Feeding your tortoise is not that difficult, in fact, you won’t have to worry about it. If you have a backyard or some plants, your African Spurred Tortoise can live a happy life! But since you took on the responsibility of becoming a reputable breeder, you probably have better do that by providing them with healthy nutrition.

Fresh produce, hay, commercial granules, and occasional fruity treats, as well as their natural food in the wild, such as grass, flowers, and weeds, can contribute to your pet’s longevity and health.

Nutritional requirements

The key to a tortoise’s long life is a proper diet. The tortoise diet, in general, should be high in fiber and calcium yet low in protein and fruit; The type of food a keeper must feed depends on the type of turtle. In this case, African Spurred Tortoises should be fed hay, as it is rich in fiber and highly recommended for grassland tortoises such as African spurred tortoise and other species that originated in arid landscapes.

Basically there are two types of hay; Timothy Hay and Alfafa Hay. Alfalfa hay contains high levels of fiber and calcium, but it also contains higher levels of protein than timothy hay, so be sure not to overfeed your tortoise pet with too much alfalfa hay.

Hay can be bought by the bag and is often found at pet stores, grocery stores, and online stores. If you don’t see hay in the reptile section, you can find stocks is probably the rabbit or guinea pig sections.

Other foods for grassland tortoises include grass, flowers, and weeds. Note that tortoises graze on the ground in the wild, so grazing should also be available.

If you don’t have a lot of grass around your backyard, you can easily buy grass seeds so you can grow your own grass so your pet tortoise can happily graze outside.

If you keep your pet in an outdoor pen, what you can do is plant edible grasses and other plants so they have plenty of options.

If you plan to let your African Spurred Tortoise pet pay, or if you are gathering wild grasses, weeds, or other vegetation to eat, just be sure to offer them fresh produce that is not sprayed with pesticides. It’s also important to know which plants are toxic so you don’t accidentally give your tortoise anything poisonous. Below is the list of toxic plants for your tortoise:

Go Green

Plants like kale, mustard, and dandelion are nutritious and contain high levels of calcium. You can buy kale and mustard at grocery stores, on the other hand, dandelion leaves can be a little hard to find, but you can always have the option to grow them.

African Spurred Tortoises love to eat dandelion flowers, as well as hibiscus, rose petals, and carnations. You can offer them other types of flowers, but make sure they are non-toxic and not sprayed with fertilizers or pesticides.

It can be tempting to buy a lot of fresh vegetables from supermarkets, but you should be aware that these vegetables may not be good choices due to vegetables like spinach as it can block the tortoise’s ability to absorb calcium.

Some vegetables like peas and green beans contain high levels of protein, iceberg lettuces should also be avoided because it can cause tortoises diarrhea as it is high in water content.

Fruit can be offered as a gift, but be sure not to overfeed your pet or offer fruits that are high in water content. Fruits like strawberries, blueberries, raspberry, melon, apple, papaya, and mango are good fruits to feed, provided they are offered in limited quantities.

Before offering fresh food to your tortoise, it is highly recommended that you sprinkle it with a little amount of calcium supplement preferably with vitamin D3 and without any phosphorous content for each serving.

Commercial Food

Commercial granules can also be rotated as part of your pet’s diet. You can buy them at pet stores or online. Just make sure that before you buy one, check the ingredient list in each package. Plan your pet’s nutrition accordingly and hope to spend a long-term relationship with your tortoise.

List Of Toxic Plants To Avoid

Here is a list of plants that could be harmful to your pet’s tortoise:

  • aconite
  • Anemone
  • Azalea
  • Begonia
  • Bird from paradise
  •  Buttercup
  • Calla Lily
  • Cyclamen
  • Daffodil
  • Dianthus
  • Foxglove
  • Hemlock
  • Hydrangea
  • Ivy
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Lobelia
  • Mistletoe
  • Nightshade
  • Oleander
  • Prunus
  • Ragwort
  • Rhododendron
  • Sweet Pea