• IUCN Status
  • Population
    The wild population of sulcata tortoises is unknown, but their numbers are declining.
  • Diet
    Herbivore - green leafy vegetables and salads, dandelion and many other vegetables
  • Group
    a Creep
  • Size
    lengths of 86cm
  • Continent
  • Lifespan
    up 100 years or longer in captivity
  • Weight
    Males are large than females and can weigh up to 100kg
  • Habitat
    Southern edge of Sahara Desert
  • Scientific Name
    Centrochelys sulcata

Meet the Sulcata Tortoise


The African spurred tortoise, 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.

A sulcata tortoise diet consists of vegetation. Good foods include dandelion, clover, honeysuckle, leafy salads, watercress, curly kale, brussel tops, spring greens, coriander, parsley, rocket, carrot, parsnip, courgette and bell peppers.




our Sulcata tortoises at Wolds Wildlife Park

Did you know?

We have three Sulcata tortoises at the Park and if you would like to know more about this species of reptile then please read the facts below.

How big can a Sulcata Tortoise grow and how old can they get?up arrow

The Sulcata tortoise is the third largest tortoise in the world.

In captivity they can easily weigh up to 100kgs (more than some humans) and have a body that extends 86cm in length.

A Sulcata tortoise can live up to 100 years or longer in captivity, making them one of the longest living animals on the planet.

People mistakenly believed that you could tell a Sulcata tortoise’s age by counting the grooves on its shells. It was thought that each groove represented a completed growth period.  However, research proved this is not the case. 


Do Sulcata tortoises make any noise?down arrow

Yes, when a Sulcata tortoise is startled they can start hissing.  This can be loud and abrupt or as quiet as a snake.

It's also common for this type of tortoise to make a hissing sound as they retract their body into their shell.

Other than their scientific name what is the official name of the sulcata tortoise?down arrow

They are officially called the African Spurred Tortoise

What distinguishing features does a sulcata tortoise have?down arrow

One of the Sulcata tortoises distinguishing features is their curled marginals. The marginals are the portion of the tortoise shell with openings. You can find marginal scutes by the tortoise’s head and tail. The shape of the flaring with their marginal scutes is as unique to each individual animal as fingerprints are to humans. The flared marginals are especially easy to spot in large males.

Another distinguishing characteristic is the presence of 2-3 long and pointed conical spurs on each thigh.  This feature is what gives them the name of African spurred tortoise.

How many sensory organs does a Sulcata tortoise have?down arrow

Three - eyes, ears and nose