Chordates • Earth.com

African spurred tortoise

(Centrochelys sulcata)

galery

Description

The African spurred tortoise (Centrochelys sulcata), also called the sulcata tortoise, is a species of tortoise inhabiting the southern edge of the Sahara desert in Africa. It is the third-largest species of tortoise in the world, the largest mainland species of tortoise, and the only extant species in the genus Centrochelys. Its specific name sulcata is from the Latin word sulcus meaning "furrow" and refers to the furrows on the tortoise's scales. The African spurred tortoise is native to the Sahara Desert and the Sahel, a transitional ecoregion of semiarid grasslands, savannas, and thorn shrublands found in the countries of Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen and possibly in Somalia, Algeria, Benin, and Cameroon. It is possibly extirpated from Djibouti and Togo.In these arid regions, the tortoise excavates burrows in the ground to get to areas with higher moisture levels, and spends the hottest part of the day in these burrows. This is known as aestivation. In the wild, they may burrow very deep; up to 15 m deep and 30 m long. Plants such as grasses and succulents grow around their burrows if kept moist and in nature continue to grow for the tortoise to eat if the soil is replenished with its feces. Sulcata tortoises found in the Sudanese part of their range may reach significantly greater size at maturity than those found in other regions. C. sulcata is the third-largest species of tortoise in the world after the Galapagos tortoise, and Aldabra giant tortoise, and the largest of the mainland tortoises. Bill Branch reported a maximum size in the wild as 83 cm and 98 kg, but others state that they can reach 105 kg (231 lb). They grow from hatchling size (2-3 in) very quickly, reaching 6-10 in (15-25 cm) within the first few years of their lives. They can live more than 70 years. Sulcata tortoises are herbivores. Primarily, their diets consist of many types of grasses, plants, and hay. Their overall diet should be high in fiber and very low in protein. Flowers and other plants including cactus pads can be consumed. Fruits such as apples are somewhat healthy for the tortoise although various vegetables such as endive, dandelion greens, and romaine lettuce are better.

Taxonomic tree:

Domain:
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum:
Class: Reptilia
Order:Testudines
Family:Testudinidae
Genus:Centrochelys
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