Sulcata Tortoise, also known as African Spurred Tortoise, is the most in-demand pet.
Leonardo DiCaprio owns one! Ooh… now you are interested. The moment you set your eyes on one, they are sure to steal your heart.
They have a huge fan following and a dedicated facebook page for the owners!
Few facts about Sulcata:
- The name Sulcata comes from the Latin word Sulcus meaning “Furrow.” These tortoises have furrows or deep lines on their shells. They are native of the Sahara desert in North Africa.
- Until a few decades ago, they were a rarity in the United States, but their adaptability to different climatic conditions and habitats has made them a favorite pet. The affordability and ability to breed in captivity also made them a popular choice.
- The sulcatas dig deep burrows and spend the hot part of the day in the hole where there is high moisture content.
- Baby sulcatas are cute and so small that they fit into the palm of your hand. The sulcata hatchlings can measure 1.5 to 2 inches carapace length. But they grow huge. The male species can grow to up to 200 pounds and the female up to 100 pounds. Their growth is very rapid in the first 5-10 years, and then it slows down. Did you know that Sulcatas are the third-largest species of tortoise in the world?
- The lifespan of the sulcata is another crucial reason why many of them like to have them as pets. Experts believe that the sulcatas can live over a hundred years, and they are most likely to outlive their owners! So most owners feel good to have a pet who will be with them through their life and can avoid the pain of grief. But what most owners do not factor in while getting the sulcata tortoise as pets, is about who will care for the pet tortoise in their old age or after they die. This leaves a lot of these pet tortoises homeless and uncared for.
- The male sulcata tortoises can be aggressive, particularly with other males. They make different sounds like croaking, grunting, and whistling.
- The sulcatas lay eggs several times a year and lay around 15 – 50 eggs in a clutch, this helps breeders get several baby sulcates with little or no effort.
- Another interesting fact about the sulcata tortoise is that they can be without food and water for several weeks, and when they do get the water, they can drink up to 15% of their body weight!
- Sulcata tortoises are herbivores, and they feed on grasses and plants.
Sulcata tortoises are cute pets. They are very slow and quite big! They sometimes get stuck at places due to their huge sizes and flip themselves over and struggle to get themselves right. They entertain you in numerous ways like this.
The young sulcatas can be kept in small tanks, with some space to roam. This will keep them safe and is suitable for their growth and development. But they cannot be kept in tanks forever. The myth that they will remain small if held in a tank throughout is wrong.
Many sulcatas are kept in garages and basements. This also is very harmful; they do not get enough sunlight and vitamin D required for healthy shells and bones. A home with a large yard is one of the basic requirements to care for a sulcata tortoise.
They need outdoor space with a high fence that should also extend underground as they burrow quite deep. Sulcata tortoises cannot survive the harsh winter outdoors, so it is a good idea to get a heated shed. Due to the large size keeping them indoor is not practical. If housed indoors, they need a UVA/ UVB light in the absence of sunlight to avoid metabolic bone disease.
The sulcatas can tolerate a day time temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temperature up to 70 degrees. Any drop in temperature below this would need a heated shelter.
The sulcatas need a right amount of fiber and calcium and low protein. Their diet should comprise of at least 75% – 85% grasses, which provides high fiber content. They can be fed hay, plants and flowers, including cactus pads which would have a low protein content.
Do not feed them fruits and food high in oxalate content like spinach, broccoli, kale, and cauliflower. Diets that provide them with high protein or less calcium can lead to various deformities, including malformation of the shell and pyramiding. Pyramiding is a condition where the shell of the tortoise, which is generally smooth, grows uneven in a pyramid shape. This condition can sometimes be life-threatening too.
The sulcatas are voracious eaters. If they are not looking for food or eating, this implies ill health. They could suffer from respiratory ailments if kept in overly humid enclosures. The other common diseases they suffer from are fungal infections. This could lead to dry, flaky shells and shell rot.
An annual health checkup is recommended for proper care of the sulcata tortoise to ensure that they are not suffering from any ailment and are growing at the right pace.
The prices of the sulcata tortoise ranges between $ 50 – $ 1000. We understand Leonardo DiCaprio got his cutie pet for a whopping $400.
Overbreeding has reduced the prices of these tortoises and have made them more available for an impulsive buy.
People do not factor in the subsequent expenditure and the care involved while buying the sulcata tortoise as pets, and this leads to a lot of them being abandoned when they grow big or outlive the owner. Some of them also die due to lack of proper care and diet.
Now that you know more about the sulcata tortoise and know how to care for them go ahead and get one of these cute dapper-looking ones as a pet. But make sure you have a provision for them in your will, to take care of them after your life, for with proper care and diet they are sure to outlive you.