dcsimg
Image of African Spurred Tortoise
Creatures » » Animals » » Vertebrates » » Turtles » » Tortoises »

African Spurred Tortoise

Centrochelys sulcata (Miller 1779)

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

provided by AnAge articles
Maximum longevity: 54.3 years (captivity)
license
cc-by-3.0
copyright
Joao Pedro de Magalhaes
editor
de Magalhaes, J. P.
partner site
AnAge articles

Untitled

provided by Animal Diversity Web

Some African cultures regard the Sulcata as a mediator between men and the gods. As a result, the tortoise is often kept in villages to intercede between the Head of the village and the Ancestors. In Dogon countries today, the tortoise is kept with the village leader at all times to allow him to communicate with the village ancestors.

In Senegal, these tortoises, are signs of virtue, happiness, fertility, and longevity. Therefore, it is easier to promote programs that support the conservation of the tortoise. The Senegalese respect the symbolic nature of the tortoise and are very important in helping conservationists ensure reproduction and repopulation of it.

license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Harrold, A. 2001. "Geochelone sulcata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Geochelone_sulcata.html
author
Andria Harrold, Bethel College
original
visit source
partner site
Animal Diversity Web

Conservation Status

provided by Animal Diversity Web

Many populations of G. sulcata are rapidly disappearing, especially in Mali, Chad, Niger, and Ethiopia. In Senegal there are still limited populations in the north and north-east, but there is a lot of overgrazing and desertification here too that is wiping this tortoise out.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: appendix ii

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: vulnerable

license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Harrold, A. 2001. "Geochelone sulcata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Geochelone_sulcata.html
author
Andria Harrold, Bethel College
original
visit source
partner site
Animal Diversity Web

Benefits

provided by Animal Diversity Web

Sulcatas are popular in the pet trade due to the fact that they can breed very well in captivity.

license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Harrold, A. 2001. "Geochelone sulcata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Geochelone_sulcata.html
author
Andria Harrold, Bethel College
original
visit source
partner site
Animal Diversity Web

Trophic Strategy

provided by Animal Diversity Web

Geochelone sulcata is a vegetarian. It relies on succulent plants for food and much of its water. In captivity, it will eat a variety of grasses, lettuce, berseem, and morning-glory leaves.

license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Harrold, A. 2001. "Geochelone sulcata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Geochelone_sulcata.html
author
Andria Harrold, Bethel College
original
visit source
partner site
Animal Diversity Web

Distribution

provided by Animal Diversity Web

The African spurred tortoise (Geochelone sulcata) occurs along the southern edge of the Sahara, from Senegal and Mauritania east through Mali, Niger, Chad, the Sudan, Ethiopia, along the Red Sea in Eritrea.

Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )

license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Harrold, A. 2001. "Geochelone sulcata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Geochelone_sulcata.html
author
Andria Harrold, Bethel College
original
visit source
partner site
Animal Diversity Web

Habitat

provided by Animal Diversity Web

The Sulcata tortoise lives in hot, arid environments of the Sahelian type. These areas range from desert fringes to dry savannahs. Standing water is only around for limited amounts of time. Much of it's range has been disturbed by urbanisation, domestic animal grazing, and desertification.

Terrestrial Biomes: desert or dune ; savanna or grassland

license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Harrold, A. 2001. "Geochelone sulcata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Geochelone_sulcata.html
author
Andria Harrold, Bethel College
original
visit source
partner site
Animal Diversity Web

Life Expectancy

provided by Animal Diversity Web

Average lifespan
Status: captivity:
54.3 years.

license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Harrold, A. 2001. "Geochelone sulcata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Geochelone_sulcata.html
author
Andria Harrold, Bethel College
original
visit source
partner site
Animal Diversity Web

Morphology

provided by Animal Diversity Web

G. sulcata is the largest of the African mainland tortoises. Only the Galapagos tortoises are larger. These tortoises have broad, oval, flattened carapaces that are brown to yellow in color. The carapace is flattened dorsally, with abruptly descending sides and a deep cervical notch. The anterior and posterior marginals are serrated, and the posterior marginals upturned. They do not have a cervical scute. The plastron is ivory colored with divided anal scutes and paired forked gulars. They have growth rings on the scutes that are strongly marked with age. Skin color is golden to yellow-brown and very, very thick. Mature males usually develop reverted marginal scales in the front. The large scales on the front legs overlap. On the rear legs, there are spurs which are not known to serve any particular purpose.

Their head is moderate in size, with a slightly hooked upper jaw and nonprotruding snout. It is brown, with the jaws being a slightly darker brown. Externally, it is hard to tell males from females. Males have slightly longer, thicker tails and a more concave plastron, but otherwise appear similar to females.

Range mass: 36 to 50 kg.

Average mass: 0.043 kg.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; bilateral symmetry

license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Harrold, A. 2001. "Geochelone sulcata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Geochelone_sulcata.html
author
Andria Harrold, Bethel College
original
visit source
partner site
Animal Diversity Web

Reproduction

provided by Animal Diversity Web

Sulcatas breed very well in captivity. Males reach sexual maturity when their carapace is about 35 cm in diameter. Sulcatas are very aggressive toward each other, especially during breeding time. Males ram each other repeatedly and sometimes end up with bloody limbs and heads. Copulation can take place anytime from June through March. However, it occurs most frequently after a rainy season in September through November. When mating, the male first circles the female and will occasionally ram her with his shell.

After mating, the female's body will swell with eggs and she will decrease her food intake. She becomes increasingly restless as she looks for good places to make a nest. Nesting season is in the autumn. She begins by kicking loose dirt out of the way and eventually creates a depression, which she urinates in. She digs until the depression reaches approximately 0.6 m in diameter and 7-14 cm deep. This may take her up to five hours. Four or five nests may be dug before she finally selects one to lay her eggs in. Once she selects one, an egg is laid every three minutes. Her clutch size may reach 15-30 eggs, sometimes more. The eggs are white and spherical with brittle shells. After the eggs are laid, the female will fill in her nest. It may take her more than an hour to cover all the eggs up.

The eggs incubate underground for about eight months. When they hatch, the tortoises are only 4-6 cm in carapace length. They are oval-shaped and weigh less than 25 gm. They are yellow to tan with rounded, serrated carapaces.

Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)

license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
bibliographic citation
Harrold, A. 2001. "Geochelone sulcata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Geochelone_sulcata.html
author
Andria Harrold, Bethel College
original
visit source
partner site
Animal Diversity Web

Biology

provided by Arkive
Most activity occurs during the rainy season (July to October), primarily at dawn and dusk, when this tortoise forages for succulent plants and annual grasses (4) (5). Like many species, the African spurred tortoise often spends the early morning basking to raise its body temperature after the night chill. During the dry season, adults often aestivate in their cool, moist burrows to prevent dehydration, while hatchlings are thought to enter small mammal burrows for the same purpose (4) (5). Mating can take place at any time from June through to March, but reportedly occurs most frequently after the rainy season from September to November (4) (5). Four or five nests may be dug before the female decides upon the one in which to lay her clutch of 15 to 30 eggs. Once deposited, these eggs incubate underground in the covered nest for approximately eight months (4) (5). From the moment they hatch, African spurred tortoises are very aggressive towards one another, and especially so at breeding times (4) (5). Males in particular can commonly be seen ramming into each other and attempting to flip one another over (4).
license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
Wildscreen
original
visit source
partner site
Arkive

Conservation

provided by Arkive
Varying degrees of legal protection are afforded to this tortoise across its range, but illegal capture clearly continues in certain areas. Furthermore, although the African spurred tortoise is listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), with a zero annual export quota for specimens removed from the wild and traded for primarily commercial purposes, it is difficult for authorities to differentiate between wild and captive-bred specimens. Enforcement against fraud and smuggling is evidently insufficient, especially between Mali, Ghana and Togo, and this problem needs to be addressed. African spurred tortoises breed fairly easily in captivity, and the United States reportedly now breeds enough specimens to supply domestic demand, while the specimens exported from the U.S. to Japan are also declared to be from breeding operations (3). Unfortunately, arid regions in which this species is found are not often proclaimed as national parks or reserves (7), but where the African spurred tortoise does occur in protected areas, it is doing well (3). This is the case for populations in the Parc du Diawling in Mauritania and the Parc du W in Niger (3). In Senegal, the African spurred tortoise is a symbol of virtue, happiness, fertility and longevity and, as such, conservation programmes have been easier to promote in this country (4). In 1993, a programme to help this tortoise was established by the Fondation Rurale pour le Developpement, a Senegalese association, supported by Station d'Observation et de Protection des Tortues des Maures (SOPTOM), a European non-governmental organisation. A breeding centre, an information centre and a protection centre were created in Sangalkam in Senegal, and a restocking project was established. Additionally, tortoises from the Netherlands have been repatriated to Senegal (3). However, with advancing desertification, the revered status of the African spurred tortoise in this country may not be enough to protect it.
license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
Wildscreen
original
visit source
partner site
Arkive

Description

provided by Arkive
The African spurred tortoise is the largest tortoise of the African mainland, and is surpassed in size only by the giant island species from Aldabra and Galápagos (4) (5). This desert-dwelling tortoise is well camouflaged by its overall sandy coloration (6), having thick golden to yellow-brown skin and a brownish carapace (4) (5). The broad, oval carapace displays prominent serrations at the front and back margins and conspicuous growth rings on each scute, which become particularly marked with age (4). Large, overlapping scales cover the front surface of the forelimbs, while the hind surface of the thigh bears two or three large conical spurs, from which the species earns its name (4) (5).
license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
Wildscreen
original
visit source
partner site
Arkive

Habitat

provided by Arkive
The African spurred tortoise lives in hot, arid regions ranging from desert fringes to dry savannahs, where permanent water supplies are usually lacking (4) (5) (7).
license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
Wildscreen
original
visit source
partner site
Arkive

Range

provided by Arkive
Found along the southern edge of the Sahara, from Senegal and Mauritania, east through Mali, Chad, the Sudan and Ethiopia to Eritrea. This species may also be found in Niger and Somalia (1).
license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
Wildscreen
original
visit source
partner site
Arkive

Status

provided by Arkive
Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1), and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).
license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
Wildscreen
original
visit source
partner site
Arkive

Threats

provided by Arkive
African spurred tortoise populations have declined rapidly in the face of habitat loss, particularly in Mali, Chad, Niger and Ethiopia, largely as a result of urbanisation, overgrazing by domestic livestock and desertification (4). Several ethnic groups in the Sahel, especially nomadic tribes, eat this species (3). The already vulnerable position of the species has been compounded in recent years by an increase in capture for international trade, as pets and for body parts reportedly used to make longevity potions in Japan (3). It is primarily juveniles that are captured for trade and, as this species takes 15 years to reach maturity, there is grave concern that generations in the wild may be unable to renew themselves, resulting in extinction of local population (3).
license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
Wildscreen
original
visit source
partner site
Arkive

Distribution

provided by ReptileDB
Continent: Africa
Distribution: Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Chad, Niger, Mali, S Mauritania, Senegal, Central African Republic (range generally lies along the southern perimeter of the Sahara Desert), Cameroon
Type locality: "India orientali" (in error); incorrectly listed as "Westindien" by Wermuth and Mertens 1961:224, and Wermuth and Mertens 1977:90.
license
cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
copyright
Peter Uetz
original
visit source
partner site
ReptileDB

African spurred tortoise

provided by wikipedia EN

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 species of mainland tortoise, and the only extant species in the genus Centrochelys.

Taxonomy and etymology

Its specific name sulcata is from the Latin word sulcus meaning "furrow" and refers to the furrows on the tortoise's scales.

Range and habitat

 src=
Young C. sulcata

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, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Somalia, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sudan. It is possibly extirpated from Djibouti and Togo.[1] 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.[3] This is known as aestivation. In the wild, they may burrow very deep; up to 15 m deep and 30 m long.[4] 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.[3] Sulcata tortoises found in the Sudanese part of their range may reach significantly greater size at maturity than those found in other regions.

Size and lifespan

A sulcata tortoise with a deformed shell due to the lack of proper care

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.[4] Bill Branch reported a maximum size in the wild as 83 cm and 98 kg,[4] but others state that they can reach 105 kg (231 lb).[5] 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.[6]

Diet

 src=
African spurred tortoise at the Las Vegas Zoo

Sulcata tortoises are herbivores. Primarily, their diets consist of many types of grasses and plants, high in fiber and very low in protein. Flowers and other plants including cactus pads can be consumed.[7]

Breeding

Copulation

Copulation takes place right after the rainy season, during the months from September through November.[3] Males combat each other for breeding rights with the females and are vocal during copulation.[3]

Sixty days after mating, the female begins to roam looking for suitable nesting sites.[3] For five to fifteen days, four or five nests may be excavated before she selects the perfect location in which the eggs will be laid.[3]

Loose soil is kicked out of the depression, and the female may frequently urinate into the depression.[3] Once it reaches about two feet (60 cm) in diameter and 3–6 in (7–14 cm) deep, a further depression, measuring some eight inches (20 cm) across and in depth, will be dug out towards the back of the original depression.[3] The work of digging the nest may take up to five hours; the speed with which it is dug seems to be dependent upon the relative hardness of the ground.[3] It usually takes place when the ambient air temperature is at least 78 °F (27 °C).[3] Once the nest is dug, the female begins to lay an egg every three minutes.[3] Clutches may contain 15–30 or more eggs.[3] After the eggs are laid, the female fills in the nest, taking an hour or more to fully cover them all.[3] Incubation should be 86 to 88 °F, and will take from 90 to 120 days.

References

  1. ^ a b Petrozzi, F.; Luiselli, L.; Hema, E.M.; Diagne, T.; Segniagbeto, G.H.; Eniang, E.A.; Leuteritz, T.E.J.; Rhodin, A.G.J. (2021). "Centrochelys sulcata". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2021: e.T163423A1006958. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2021-1.RLTS.T163423A1006958.en. Retrieved 30 July 2021.
  2. ^ Fritz Uwe; Peter Havaš (2007). "Checklist of Chelonians of the World" (PDF). Vertebrate Zoology. 57 (2): 279–280. ISSN 1864-5755. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-05-01. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Kaplan, Melissa. (1996)African Spurred Tortoises. Reptile and Amphibian Magazine, September/October 1996, pp. 32–45
  4. ^ a b c Branch, Bill (2008). Tortoises, Terrapins & Turtles of Africa. South Africa: Struik Publishers. p. 128. ISBN 978-1-77007-463-7.
  5. ^ African Spurred Tortoise Archived 2015-10-26 at the Wayback Machine, Arkive
  6. ^ "Sulcata Tortoise Care Sheet". www.reptilesmagazine.com. Retrieved 2018-02-27.
  7. ^ Gurley, Russ (2002). The African Spurred Tortoise Geochelone sulcate in Captivity. ISBN 978-1-885209-25-2.

 title=
license
cc-by-sa-3.0
copyright
Wikipedia authors and editors
original
visit source
partner site
wikipedia EN

African spurred tortoise: Brief Summary

provided by wikipedia EN

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 species of mainland tortoise, and the only extant species in the genus Centrochelys.

license
cc-by-sa-3.0
copyright
Wikipedia authors and editors
original
visit source
partner site
wikipedia EN