June 24, 2024


The food dudes

African Spurred Tortoises – How to Care For These Giant African Turtles

African Spurred Tortoises, when young, are cute, outgoing, and very tame. Perhaps these are reasons any prospective turtle owner would seriously considering owning one. But this African Turtle may not be the best choice for a pet because it grows very big and becomes very powerful. In fact, African Spurred Tortoises are the largest tortoises in the African mainland and the third largest on the planet. They will surely require a big space and lots of food. More importantly, they will need a lot of your time and money.

African Spurred Tortoises are so named because of the spurs on their hind legs. Found in the hot, dry scrubland areas of North Central Africa, the adult female African Spurred Tortoise can reach a shell length of 20 inches, while adult males can grow even larger, with shells up to 30 inches in length. It has a broad and oval-shaped carapace, off-white plastron, and brown head. The colour of its body varies, from yellowish to golden brown. This species also has very thick skins.

African Spurred Tortoises require a high fibre diet. They enjoy eating mixed salads of greens and vegetables every day; with a sprinkling of calcium from time to time. Significantly, any turtle has the tendency to become obese if overfed. Thus, every African turtle owner should make sure that food is served in moderation. These turtles can also be fed with fruits, such as melons and apples, during the hot summer months; but only once every 10 days to 2 weeks. They should never be fed commercial dog or cat food.

African Spurred Tortoises require warm, dry environments. In their outdoor enclosures, a substrate of three-fourths sand and one-fourth peat moss is a must. Add a layer of grass hay on one side to serve as shade. This shade shelters tortoises from heat and provides a secure place to rest. On the other hand, to provide warmth to animals, use a heat-emitting bulb in a lamp. Hang it 12 inches above the substrate. You should also provide a basking spot, heated to between 90º to 95º F. Make sure you also have a space for a water dish. For safety, ensure that the enclosure is predator-free.

As the owner, if you decide to keep your turtle indoors, you must house it in a large terrarium-not in an aquarium. These two housing options are actually very different. These instructions only apply for a small or medium sized African Spurred Tortoise. Plastic tubs, wooden cages, and other enclosures are acceptable for all sizes. It is noteworthy to mention that African Spurred Tortoises, like most of their family, require a great amount of UVB radiation for Vitamin D3 syntheses (needed in calcium metabolism), and love being outdoors, exposed to grass, plants and soil. It is therefore recommended to build outdoor housing for them whenever possible.

Owning and caring for any species of turtle require a lot of your time and money. You will have to make informed decisions based on the needs of your particular breed of turtle. Do not become one of those owners who felt excited as a novice turtle keeper, but ended up selling-or worse, leaving-his pet discarded, trying to fend for itself in the wild.