Spur Thigh


Tortoise Hatching


Range: Africa, south of the Sahara

Habitat: Savannahs, Grasslands.  Human Farming areas.

Natural Diet: Vegetarian diet, heavy in grasses.

Diet at Rain Forest: Fresh diet prepared daily of various types of greens.

Size: Females 20-25 Pounds--Males 25-60 Pounds. (record size is over 150 pounds)

Rain Forest Facts: The African Spur thigh tortoise lays a surprisingly large clutch of eggs, most tortoises lay a small number of eggs, usually 2-4, the African Spur thigh tortoise can lay as many as 20 eggs per clutch, with several clutches possible in a breeding season.   Anecdotal stories of one adult female producing up to 100 eggs in a season are often heard.  While it is possible for a female to lay several clutches of eggs it is important to remember that the loss of calcium the female will endure while laying such large numbers of eggs can have a very detrimental effect on her over all health. 

Here at RainForest Adventures we incubate our Sulcata tortoise eggs at 85 degrees Fahrenheit for a period of approximately 80-90 days.  The incubation temperature can actually be as low as 82 degrees which can extend the incubation period by as much as several weeks, conversely the incubation temperature can be raised to as high as 88 degrees Fahrenheit which generally results in a lower period of time for the eggs to hatch.   Click here to visit the RainForest nursery and see the incubators and procedures we use to successfully hatch our little tortoises.

The largest main-land dwelling tortoise, the African Spur Thigh Tortoise is only eclipsed in size by the island dwelling species of the Galapagos and Aldabra Islands. 

Many types of animals utilize the burrows created by the digging of the African Spur Thigh tortoise.  This powerful animal excavates long burrows into the soil to escape the mid-day heat of the African sun.  Both vertebrates and invertebrates utilize the long burrows as shelter, the loss of such an important animal as the Spur Thigh would result in a domino effect on many other species that depend on the tortoise for shelter.

Close up of Sulcata tortoise (male) showing pronounced scutes on plastron found on male tortoises of this species.

Status in Wild: Numbers are declining in majority of natural range primarily due to habitat destruction and consumption by human.  A slow reproduction rate prohibits any rapid rebound in population  even when external pressures are reduced.  This tortoise species has one of the better chances of long term survival due to some of the remote locations the tortoise inhabits.


In the wild the Sulcata is primarily a grass eater, they rarely have the opportunity to eat as well as they can be seen eating here at RainForest. 

The diet we provide our tortoises varies greatly by season.   When fresh grass and tall weedy type native plants are available our tortoises eat very much like they would in the wild. 

During the Smoky Mountain winter our tortoises slow down in consuming volume of food but make up for it in a more calorie rich diet of collard greens, kale, romaine lettuce and various types of squash, tomato and carrots. 

Dietary supplements such as calcium powder are added to the diet to aid in the healthy development of both bones and the shell. 


High Resolution Pictures Available



RainForest Adventures zoo, Smoky Mountains, Tennessee near Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge TN