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When it comes to speedy growth, the Sulcata tortoise (Centrochelys sulcata) has all other tortoise species beat, according to Susan Horton and Erica Mede of the Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital. These reptiles, also known as African spurred tortoises, are native to northern and central Africa, including Egypt, Sudan, Mauritania and Chad.
About Sulcata Tortoises
Sulcata tortoises are continental Africa's biggest tortoises. They typically inhabit savannas near arid and dry desert environments. Sulcata tortoises in the wild consume a lot of grass, flowers and weeds. These brownish-yellow tortoises can achieve body lengths of 32 inches or more and about 230 pounds.
Sulcata Tortoise Growth
Sulcata tortoises are the planet's most rapidly growing tortoises, especially in their first five to 10 years. Although Sulcata tortoises can grow very fast, they run the gamut in terms of growth rates, according to ReptileChannel.com. For example, a Sulcata tortoise can be 14 inches long whether he's 3 years old or a mature adult. It's not easy to predict how large a Sulcata tortoise will get -- even for two who consume the exact same foods day in and day out.
As hatchlings, Sulcata tortoises are often between 1.5 and 2 inches in upper shell length -- still very small. However, within just a year or two, they can very quickly grow to 6 to 10 inches. For people who are thinking about a Sulcata tortoise as a pet, consideration of future size is vital. These reptiles do not stay tiny forever, or even for very long at all. Sulcata tortoises generally cease growing when they're between 15 and 20 years old, similarly to humans.
Sulcata Diet and Growth Rate
A proper and well-rounded Sulcata tortoise diet might help maintain a healthy growth rate, according to the Sulcata Station. Inappropriate sustenance can trigger excessively rapid growth, possibly leading to deformation of the shell or other ailments. Foliage and grasses are vital components of a proper Sulcata diet. Hibiscus leaves and grape leaves are suitable foods.
- ReptileChannel.com: Sulcata Tortoise Care Sheet
- Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital: Sulcata Care
- International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List: Centrochelys Sulcata
- ARKive: African Spurred Tortoise
- Star Tortoises: African Spurred Tortoises aka Sulcata
- Herp Care Collection: Sulcatas Get Big. Fast.
- Sulcata Station: Diet Recommendations
- Herp Care Collections: Sulcata Tortoises
- Ryan McVay/Valueline/Getty Images