African Spur Tortoise Easy Care Guide

One of the largest tortoise species is the sulcata (Geochelone) tortoise, also known as the African spur tortoise. It has sharp, pointed scales (or spurs) on its legs and a brown to yellow shell. These tortoises, originally from arid and semiarid areas of Africa, have gained popularity as pets due to their ability to adjust to new environments.

However, due to their lengthy lives and particular care requirements, they aren’t the best pets for everyone. However, if you take care of them, they can be excellent friends who are amusing, inquisitive, and sociable.

You may also want to read about Leopard tortoise care.


African spur tortoise, like all other tortoises, are stoic, slow-moving, and quiet creatures. They are also naturally inquisitive, which can backfire on them. Aside from being easily flipped over and unable to right themselves, they also have a tendency to get stuck in tight spaces that are too small for them. These tortoises make great pets because they are calm and easy to care for.

The majority of the time, they are neither hostile nor possessive. However, they still shouldn’t be handled frequently, especially not when they’re younger and more vulnerable. Stress caused by prolonged handling has been linked to a variety of negative health effects, including early demise.

African spur tortoise


The large African spur tortoise does best in a large outdoor enclosure. A fence of about 2 feet in height should be sufficient for them. And because they are so adept at burrowing, an outdoor enclosure needs to have its fence buried at least a foot. A doghouse or small shed is fine for this purpose, and you can even include a muddy wallow for your tortoise to soak in and use as a toilet.

Although adult sulcata tortoises are too large to be kept comfortably inside, owners in colder regions still need to provide them with a warm environment. In colder climates, a heated greenhouse or outdoor shed can serve as a comfortable home. A room of its own would be required if you intend to keep an adult sulcata inside.


For optimal health and activity, Sulcata tortoises require warm temperatures. As long as they have a cool, shady place to retreat to, they can remain outside even when the temperature is over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It will be necessary to use supplemental heat if the nighttime temperature drops below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

A basking lamp set to about 95 degrees Fahrenheit should be used to keep your tortoise’s enclosure between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. Temperatures between sixty and eighty degrees Fahrenheit are generally comfortable at night. Make sure the enclosure doesn’t get too chilly or your tortoise might stop eating, making it more susceptible to illness.


Tortoises kept outside don’t require any artificial lighting beyond what the sun provides. If your sulcata tortoise is kept inside, it will not be exposed to natural, unfiltered sunlight, so you will need to provide it with a UVA/UVB light. Your tortoise will benefit from the light in terms of bone growth, immunity, and overall health. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, position the light so that it can reach your tortoise.


African spur tortoise do best in relatively humid environments (between 40 and 55 percent humidity). Fungal infections and other problems can be exacerbated by overly humid conditions. You can increase the humidity in the tortoise’s enclosure by misting it once or twice a day.

Food and water

African spur tortoise is a herbivore that requires a diet high in fiber and low in protein. This can be provided by feeding a variety of grasses and hays (comprising at least 75 percent of their diet), along with some edible weeds and flowers, such as dandelions, clover, endive, and cactus pads. Small amounts of other leafy green vegetables are also fine. Avoid foods high in oxalates, such as spinach, mustard and beet greens, kale, broccoli, and cauliflower.

Your tortoise will nibble on the grasses and weeds in its environment throughout the day, and you should offer a salad of other leafy greens and vegetables every one to two days. Check with your veterinarian to make sure you’re offering the proper variety and quantity, as this largely depends on age, size, and health of your tortoise.

Many owners supplement the veggies with a calcium powder once or twice a week (or as directed). Do not feed fruits, animal protein, or pelleted tortoise foods from the pet store unless directed by your veterinarian. Tortoises get most of their hydration from their food, but you also should include a shallow water dish in their enclosure that you refresh daily.