Sulcata Tortoise Basic Care and Facts

Ever dreamed of a pet dinosaur? The Sulcata tortoise comes close! These magnificent herbivores, native to Africa’s arid plains, boast impressive lifespans of up to 70 years, reaching sizes that rival small dogs. But before you welcome one of these charismatic creatures sulcata tortoise home, understand their unique needs.

Dive into the fascinating world of Sulcata tortoise care, from their diverse diet to spacious enclosures, and discover surprising facts about these gentle giants sulcata tortoise. Get ready to be amazed by their incredible personalities and learn how to provide a loving, lifelong home for your prehistoric pal!
sulcata tortoise

Sulcata Tortoise Lifespan

Here is some information about sulcata tortoises:

  • Lifespan: The average lifespan of the sulcata tortoise in captivity is 70–120 years. Several individuals have reached the remarkable age of 150.
  • Origin: Sulcata tortoises originate from sub-Saharan African savannahs where they congregate in groups of 100 individuals.
  • Diet: Sulcata tortoises are herbivores and the major part of their diet includes grasses, leaves, and flowers. On rare occasions, they eat fruits and vegetables too.
  • Temperament: Sulcata tortoises generally are placid and even-tempered animals. Nonetheless, they may become aggressive if you feel threatened, and they are not taken good care of.

How Big Do Sulcata Tortoises Get

Here is information about the growth stages of sulcata tortoises and the characteristics of each stage:


Age 0–1 year old
Size 2–4 inches long, 2–4 ounces in weight
Characteristics Tiny replicas of adults, with a soft shell and a dark brown or black coloration. They are very active and curious and spend their days exploring their surroundings.


Age 1–5 years old
Size 4–12 inches long, 2–25 pounds in weight
Characteristics Their shells begin to harden and develop their characteristic scutes. Their coloration lightens to a yellowish-brown. They are still active but start to spend more time basking in the sun.


Age 5–10 years old
Size 12–18 inches long, 25–75 pounds in weight
Characteristics Their shells are almost fully grown, and their adult coloration is more pronounced. They are less active than juveniles but still enjoy basking in the sun and grazing on vegetation.


Age 10+ years old
Size 18–30 inches long, 75–200 pounds in weight
Characteristics They are fully grown, with a large, dome-shaped shell and a distinctive pattern of scutes. They are relatively inactive, spending most of their time basking in the sun and eating.

sulcata tortoise care

Basic Sulcata Tortoise Care

Sulcata tortoises are a wonder to behold, but they also take a lot of effort to keep them alive. Here are some basic tips to get you started for sulcata tortoise care.


Size: They are among the largest tortoises. Indoor enclosures should be at least as large as they can be, and the outdoor ones need to be huge. Account for a hundred square feet per adult tortoise.

Temperature: These creatures need hot temperatures, with the basking spot of 95-100°F, warm zone of 80-90°F, and cooler region of 75-80°F. The nighttime temperature needs to stay warm around 65°F.

Humidity: For an ideal humidity level, the goal is to maintain it between 40-60%. Misting or shallow watering is a better option, to prevent the water from stagnating.

Substrate: Utilize dry substrates such as cypress mulch or tortoise-safe soil mix. It cannot be absorbed by the organism, if there is sand in food.


Dandelions, dark leafy greens including hibiscus, collard, and grasses like grass hay are ideal for the sulcata tortoise diet. Fruits, processed pellets, and commercial food are high in sugar and tend to be harmful to sulcata tortoise health. For diet supplements, dust greens with 2 times a calcium powder D3 twice a week and a multivitamin once a week.

Other important aspects

  • UVB lighting: Give UVB lighting to aid with calcium assimilation as well as vitamin D3 synthesis.
  • Soaking: Soak your tortoise weekly in shallow, warm water for 15–30 minutes. This helps in maintaining the normal level of water in the body along with facilitating digestion and elimination.
  • Veterinary care: Regular examinations are the key to any reptile vet health program.
  • Lifespan: They can long 70–120 years. Remember their lasting tendency when you adopt.

sulcata tortoise diet

Some incredible Sulcata Tortoise Facts

Sulcata tortoises are truly incredible creatures, and they come with some fascinating facts! Here are a few to amaze you:

1. Giants of the land

They rank third among the largest tortoise species on the Earth, getting lengths above 3 feet, and their weights over 200 pounds! Visualize that the dog is walking around in your yard – that’s how big these tortoises can be.

2. Powerhouse on legs

It’s fragile! They can push over and move much bigger objects, so double-check that your tortoise enclosure is secured.

3. Centuries in motion

These gentle giants can live for 70–120 years, thus they are listed alongside mammoths and tortoises as one of the longest-living land animals on earth! Suppose they could speak how rich these stories must be.

4. Ancient bloodlines

The oldest living Sulcata tortoise, Adwaita, made Mauritius his home for 300 years or more! He passed away in 2006, but his fame is still on.

5. Hydration heroes

They live in hot and dry habitats, and they can accumulate water in their bladders, causing them to live well in tough conditions.

6. Desert diggers

Their strong and sharp legs and claws help them dig deep tunnels to avoid the sun and enemies.

7. Communicative clickers

By shell clapping, they have a language that only they can understand which produces a unique social communication among them.
Sulcata Tortoise Facts

End of the Line

Finally, the Sulcata tortoise species excites with their giant looks and amazing features. Their long lifespans, immense size, and unique adaptations make them a good match for those who can take long-term care of the tortoise. Offering appropriate maintenance such as spacious enclosures, a varied diet, and regular veterinary care is a prerequisite for these gentle giants to continue to thrive in captivity. As caretakers of these ancient critters, we are on the trail of discovery, sharing our lives with the immortals of the planet that are a distant memory from many years ago.

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