How To Take Care Of Sulcata Tortoise?

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Sulcata tortoise can be an excellent pet option if you have just kick-started your tortoise-keeping journey and yet want to try something adventurous. The best thing about this species is its easy-maintenance quality and friendly nature.

Also, the Sulcata tortoises have the reputation of being the 3rd largest tortoise in the world. So, how do you exactly take care of the Sulcata tortoise?

Taking care of Sulcata tortoise includes:

  • Ensuring a spacious habitat
  • Maintaining and replicating wild the temperature and environment
  • Feeding the tortoise a balanced diet with necessary supplements
  • Taking care of its physical and mental health

Catch the detailed care sheet of the Sulcata tortoise in the following write-up.

How To Take Care Of Sulcata Tortoise?

I always prefer to research a species before owning it or going through its care sheet. A brief discussion solely focused on the species helps the owners to know their pets a little better. So, here it goes.

I am adding a brief discussion on the Sulcata tortoise species in the next section. Make sure you skim through it.

Sulcata Tortoise: The Species Summary

Species Intro:

African spurred tortoise is commonly known as Sulcata tortoise. Its scientific name is Geochelone sulcata. Sulcata tortoises have different subspecies and cross-breed species. Such as Ivory Sulcata tortoise, Albino Sulcata tortoise, Sudanese Sulcata tortoise, Double Het Sulcata tortoise, etc.

Natural Habitat:

You can guess the native habitat of a Sulcata tortoise from its name. The African Spurred or Sulcata tortoises come from the northern part of Africa. This distribution ranges from the southern part of Sahara to the arid and semi-arid grassland countries, for example, Mali, Senegal, Niger, Mauritania, Chad, Ethiopia, Sudan, etc.

Sulcata tortoises might be native to other parts of the world or region. In most cases, those species or subspecies are cross-breed or manipulated.

From the country list, you can assume the preferred habitat type of a Sulcata tortoise. Hot, arid, or semi-arid grasslands, especially the Sahelian regions, are more suitable for these tortoises.


Sulcata tortoises are the third largest tortoise species in this world. So, you can not expect these creatures to be small. The average carapace length of an adult Sulcata tortoise is 25 to 32 inches or more.

The Sulcata tortoises are not born big. The hatchlings are about 1 ½ to 2 inches, and at the end of the first year, they will grow into 6 to 8 inches. After 4 years of difference, these tortoises will gain a carapace size of about 10 to 20 inches.

Sulcata tortoises grow 1.25 to 2.1 inches per year, and it takes 15 to 20 years for these creatures to get in the beast shape.

Read my old write-up on the growth rate of a Sulcata tortoise from here.

Sulcata Tortoise Lifespan:

Sulcata tortoises are blessed with long life. If a Sulcata is treated well, it can live more than 70 years in the wild. In captivity, the longevity ranges between 80 to 100 years. According to many sources, these tortoises have the capability of living a life of 150 years.

How do you make your Sulcata tortoise live a long life? Find out the answers here.

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Sulcata Tortoise Behavior And Temperament

Do you know what makes the Sulcata tortoises perfect as a beginner pet? Yes, its docile and pleasant nature. Other than that, Sulcata tortoises have a slow pace of walking or doing any activity.

We often witness aggressive behavior in turtles due to their obsession over territory. This is not the case for the Sulcata tortoises. The species rarely act harshly towards their owner or mates. But yes, frequent handling or touch can make the Sulcata tortoises cranky and mentally stressed.

Sulcata tortoises are bigger than most other tortoise species. And so, they easily got stuck in narrow and small spaces. A funny thing about Sulcata tortoises is that these creatures can not be right if they ever get flipped.

Sulcata Tortoise Fool-Proof Care Sheet

To ensure the best care for your Sulcata tortoise, you have to focus on 4 points. Such as,

  • Housing
  • Environment
  • Diet
  • Health

Let’s talk about each one in detail.

Housing Supplies

Sulcata tortoises grow up to 32 inches. Though an indoor habitat will work for the babies or juveniles, an outdoor habitat is a must for the adults.

Indoor Enclosure Size

Keeping the Sulcata tortoises in an indoor habitat is impractical because of their bulky size. Even if you house the babies in an inside enclosure, you have to transfer them to an outdoor habitat in a year. However, during severe colds, an indoor shelter comes in handy.

Even though it is not advisable to house Sulcata tortoises in an inside habitat, you might use one for babies. The Sulcata hatchlings are not bigger than 1 ½ to 2 inches. Still, they will require space to move.

If you want a glass aquarium, you have to manage a 50-gallon tank. Custom-built 18”×18”×12” enclosures will also work for the baby Sulcata tortoises. Other available options are,

  • Large rubber-made plastic tub
  • Tortoise table

Sulcata tortoises grow into 6 to 8 inches in the first year. Then you have to move the pets to an outdoor location.

Outdoor Enclosure Size

You have to move your Sulcata tortoise to an outdoor location as soon as it grows 6 to 8 inches long. The outdoor enclosure should be of a minimum of 100 square feet. The more spacious the house, the more comfortable it is for the tortoises to move.

Sulcata tortoises are curious and would love to explore the surroundings. Of course, you do not want your pet to be lost. Put long and sturdy fences all around the habitat.

Sulcata tortoises grow up to 32 inches big. So, a 2 feet fencing would definitely work for them. These creatures are strong and can make the wall fall. So, you have to extend the fence underground at least 1 foot to 2 feet to strengthen the base.

Many owners improve the wall stability by building walls with cinder blocks or concrete. This way, the Sulcatas can not see through the fences and will not try to escape.

When you house your Sulcata tortoise in an outdoor habitat, you are exposing it to predators. Hence, you have to secure the Sulcata tortoise enclosure with a chicken-wire cover.

Perfect Wooden Tortoise House For Outdoor & Indoor!

tortoise habitat alvituvin

To tell you the truth, I am not any good with wood working. So, making a house for my tortoise & box turtles myself was out of question. I was always on the lookout for a decent tortoise house at a cheap price.

See also  Where To Buy Safe Grass For Sulcata Tortoise?

Thanks to Aivituvin, I’ve found the perfect tortoise house that can be set up both in indoor and outdoor. Here’s why this wooden tortoise house rocks:

  • The house is made of 100% real Solid Wood. So there is no chance of rotting due to excessive moisture or tortoise waste.
  • You can monitor the tortoise both from the front and the top. The top has a meshed part for easy air circulation. So, temperature and humidity won’t sky rocket inside the house.
  • Private sleeping area, public viewing area
  • Dimension: 38.1″(L) x 22.4″(W) x 13.1″(H)

To put simply, I haven’t found any tortoise house better than this one in the market at this lucrative price range. Adding cherry to the top, the shipping is absolutely free!

So why wait? Check out the current price here on Aivituvin!

Heating Sources

Like turtles and most other tortoise species, Sulcata tortoises are also cold-blooded. It means these reptiles require external heating sources to regulate their body temperature. In the wild, the tortoises purely depend on the sun for heat. But what to do in captivity?

Well, in an indoor Sulcata tortoise habitat, you have to set up a heating lamp over the basking area. Make sure the heat covers half the enclosure creating a temperature gradient inside the tank.

Explore the heating lamp options for your Sulcata tortoises from here.

In an outdoor Sulcata enclosure, there is no requirement for a heating source. The sun is enough to serve the purpose. However, if you live in an area where the outside temperature is below expectation, you might arrange an external heating source. But in most cases, these are useless.

So, what can you do? Well, building a shed or greenhouse room to trap heat is a popular idea.

Generally, in winter, tortoises brumate if you keep them outside. So, either you have to let the pets brumate, considering all the risks, and prepare them for this challenge. Or you can move the Sulcata tortoise in an indoor enclosure with appropriate heating arrangements.

Installing heating lamps and maintaining the temperature in an outdoor enclosure is nearly impossible during winter. So, you better not keep your tortoise outside in deadly cold weather.

Lighting Arrangements

The heating lamp is not the only lighting arrangement the Sulcata tortoises need. These reptiles require UV rays for their growth and development.

IIn the wild and an outdoor enclosure, the sun fulfills these requirements of UV exposures. But in an indoor habitat, you must set up a UV light in the basking zone. Check out the best UV lamps available in the market right now.

What happens if a Sulcata does not get enough UV?

As I have said, Sulcata tortoises need UV rays for their shell and bone growth. UV exposure influences the production of Vitamin D3 and aids in calcium absorption. As a result, the body structure grows sturdy.

Without sufficient UV rays, the tortoise would face the following issues,

  • Mushy and soft shell
  • MBD (Metabolic bone disease) or bone deformation
  • Low immunity
  • Low activity state
  • Mental stress
  • Slow digestion

Apart from these, UV lights manipulate the sleeping patterns of a tortoise. Experts claim that without quality UV rays, tortoises are unable to have a sound sleep at night. Find out more about the sleeping pattern of a tortoise from this article.

So, it is mandatory to set up a UV light if you have housed your Sulcata tortoise indoors.

Water Source

Tortoises can not swim, and you know it. So, of course, you do not have to build a pond or big water body inside the Sulcata habitat. But yes, you have to provide these tortoises with a shallow water source for drinking and bathing purposes.

Sulcata tortoises soak their bodies in the water once in a while. Generally, these tortoises prefer at least thrice a week soaking, and each session should last for about 30 minutes. The indoor Sulcata tortoises do not bathe this frequently.

You must arrange a muddy wallow for the Sulcata tortoises. Otherwise, they will suffer from dehydration, flaky skin, and shell.

Sulcata tortoises also use this water source for passing out wastes or defecating. So, you have to change the water regularly and clean the water body.

Bedding And Decoration

Sulcata tortoises love burrowing. I mean, they love it. These burrowers often live in the hole they dig. Hence, you have to put suitable substrates in both their indoor and outdoor habitat.

The most popular substrate for a Sulcata tortoise habitat is a sand mix or sterile dirt. Experts discourage using single sand. It is because sand gets mixed into the food and might harm the tortoise. Other bedding options are,

  • Orchid bark
  • Soil and coconut coir mix
  • Cypress mulch
  • Aspen mulch
  • Peat moss
  • Coconut coir, etc.

You know Sulcata tortoises prefer sleeping in holes. You can build a sleeping bed for the pet, or the tortoises would make one for themselves.

Sphagnum moss is an excellent choice for building hiding holes, but you have to spray water on it regularly to maintain the humidity. Use a plastic box or tub for the adults, and a flower pot halfway buried for the babies are the perfect hiding options for the Sulcata tortoises.

You can decorate the habitat with low vegetation, plants, and rocks. Sulcata tortoises are avid climbers. So placing medium-sized stones in the enclosure is a smart idea.

However, make sure the rocks are not too tiny that the pets might swallow or too high that the tortoises might fall and injure themselves. Also, the stones should not be edgy, or the pets will get a scratch on the scute or skin.

Now, when it comes to vegetation, the live plants give a natural vibe. You can grow grass inside the habitat as the Sulcata tortoises love grazing. This species is a big fan of vegetation and plants. So the safe plants will also work as a source of snacks.

Here is a list of safe plants you might want to grow inside the Sulcata tortoise habitat,

  • Cactus
  • Clover
  • Rose
  • Geranium
  • Aloe vera
  • Plantain
  • Turtle vein
  • Lemon balm
  • Nasturtium
  • Dandelion
  • Gazanias
  • Pansies
  • Spider plant
  • Hebe
  • Hosta
  • Wheatgrass
  • opuntia, etc.

There are many more options. Study the plant before growing inside the enclosure. Avoid the toxic plants at any cost, or you might end up losing your tortoise. And yes, do not use any pesticide growing the plants.

Replicating Wild Environment

Basking Temperature:

Sulcata tortoises require high temperatures to bask and thrive. A warm basking area of around 95 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit is preferable to this species. So, install the basking light at one corner of the enclosure and make sure the temperature in that spot is nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Another portion of the habitat should be in an 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit temperature gradient. This is the daytime temperature. During the night, the temperature should be between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

The temperature in a Sulcata tortoise habitat should not fall below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Otherwise, the tortoise would stop eating and sleep for more hours as preparation for brumation.

In an outdoor enclosure, you have to choose a spot that includes both shades and hot areas. Or you can build small shades so that the tortoises can take shelter there if the temperature gets unbearable.

Take a glance at the required temperature in a Sulcata tortoise habitat:

Basking Temperature Daytime Temperature Nighttime Temperature
95 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit

Set up a thermometer inside the habitat to monitor the temperature rise and fall.

UV Light Fixing:

When it comes to the UV light, keep it turned on 12 hours a day. Otherwise, the Sulcata tortoises might have trouble sleeping. And yes, replace the UV lights once every 6 months.

You must check the UV bulb power while buying it. Usually, 10% UV bulbs are perfect for desert tortoises. Also, maintain a certain distance between the UV light and the basking platform.


Humidity is a big issue for the Sulcata tortoises. You know they are from arid or semi-arid grasslands. So, you have to maintain a moderate amount of humidity in the enclosure.

See also  How Big Do Sulcata Tortoises Grow? [With Size Chart]

The preferred humidity in a Sulcata tortoise enclosure is 40 to 60%. Hatchlings require a more humid environment than adults. Mist the substrate once or twice a day with a water sprayer, and it will work.

Excessive humidity in the enclosure might lead to infectious and fungal attacks. On the other hand, the absence of moisture might cause dry and flaky skin and scutes.

You can install a hygrometer to track down the humidity level in the habitat.

Sulcata Tortoise Diet And Feeding Habit

Tortoises are herbivores, and so are the Sulcata tortoise species. Grass, hays, weeds, plants, leaves, stems, roots, etc., top the diet list of a Sulcata tortoise. Professionals suggest filling the Sulcata tortoise meal with 95% green. The percentage might sound boring, but not for these vegetarian tortoises.

While preparing the meal chart, include foods high in fiber and low in protein. Grasses and hay are the perfect items for the Sulcata tortoises. Experts recommend that each meal must contain at least 75% of grasses and hays.

Here is a list of safe food options for Sulcata tortoises,

Grass and Hay

  • Untreated lawn grass
  • Buffalo grass
  • Barley grass
  • Big bluestem grass
  • Bermuda grass
  • Creeping red fescue grass
  • Carex grass
  • Cat grass
  • Couch grass
  • Fescue grass
  • Dallisgrass
  • Kikuyu grass
  • Oat grass
  • Kentucky grass
  • Little bluestem grass
  • Ryegrass
  • Orchardgrass
  • Pampas grass
  • Wheatgrass
  • Timothy grass
  • Ryegrass

Growing grass in the yard is not difficult and requires absolutely zero care. You can even grow multiple types of grasses in the same area. Yard grass is safer and cheaper for the Sulcata tortoises. They will graze all day all by themselves.

It is possible to grow grasses in small pots indoors. However, you can buy grasses in bulk from the nearest pet store if you do not want any extra trouble.


  • Acanthus
  • Ivy leafed broad
  • Bindweed
  • Dandelion
  • Plantain
  • Cats ear
  • Goat head weed
  • Wild clematis
  • Chickweed
  • Clover
  • Hawkbit
  • Henbit
  • Filaree
  • Hawksbreed
  • Honeysuckle
  • Mallow
  • Nettle
  • Milk thistle
  • Robina
  • Prickly sow thistle
  • Small sow thistle
  • Trefoil
  • Sedums
  • Vetches


  • Arugula
  • Beet
  • Asparagus
  • Chicory
  • Sprouts
  • Endive
  • Escarole
  • Carrot
  • Oakleaf
  • Mesclun lettuce
  • Pepper
  • Pumpkin
  • Watercress
  • Mulberry leaves
  • Grape leaves
  • Tomato
  • Red leaf lettuce
  • Turnip
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Radicchio
  • Collard greens
  • Squash
  • Spring lettuce
  • Clover
  • Cactus pads


The calcium in the greens gets lost in the process of bringing them from the shop to your tortoise. You have seen that calcium plays a vital role in building the shell and bone structure of the tortoises. Hence, calcium insufficiency leads to deformed body structure and other bone issues.

In the wild, the greens are organic and fresh. Also, the tortoises receive the required calcium from roots, snail shells, and bones. But in captivity, you have to supplement the foods with commercial calcium.

Sprinkle calcium on the meal twice or thrice a week. You can buy calcium powder or cuttlebones as a supplement, and these will work as backups. However, make sure these products do not contain vitamin D3 as it can be toxic for the tortoise.


Sulcata tortoises live in the desert. And so, the water intake is not high in them. These creatures can live on the water content they absorb from greens.

But while in captivity, you have to provide the Sulcata tortoises with an additional water source for drinking and soaking.

Vets suggest feeding a tortoise water minutes before offering them greens.


  • Apple
  • Cantaloupe
  • Melon
  • Strawberry
  • Banana
  • Cactus fruits
  • Pears
  • Fig
  • Apricot
  • Peaches
  • Papaya
  • Berries
  • Pineapple

Fruits are not a daily item in the Sulcata tortoise’s meal. I understand fruits have nutritional values, but they are high in sugar content that harms the tortoises. But yet, you can add 5 to 10% fruits to their diet chart on every third or fourth feeding.

Do not feed your Sulcata tortoise excess fruits. Otherwise, the pet will suffer from malnutrition.

Do Sulcata Tortoises Eat Meat?

Sulcata tortoises are vegetarian or herbivores. Hence, they have little or zero interest in animal protein.

Most owners I have met advised not to feed the Sulcata any meat. But yes, the species can consume a small amount of animal matter now and then. So, if your tortoise eats an insect or worm, it will be just fine.

Foods You Should Never Feed Your Sulcata Tortoise

Of course, a Sulcata tortoise does not eat everything. There are items you should avoid at all costs. Otherwise, your pet might suffer from food poisoning or severe health issues.

Here is the list of foods to avoid,

  • Tofu
  • Processed food
  • Dairy food
  • Hot dog
  • Fast food
  • Sugary items
  • Bakery goods
  • Grain and grain products
  • Legumes and beans
  • Root vegetables
  • Avocados
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Cauliflower
  • Citrus fruits
  • Olive
  • Mustard greens
  • Artichokes

How Often Should You Feed Your Sulcata Tortoise?

The feeding schedule of a Sulcata tortoise depends on its age. While the babies require more nutrients, the adults can go without food for more days.

Here is a detailed feeding schedule for your Sulcata tortoise according to their ages,

Feeding Schedule For A Baby Sulcata Tortoise

Many owners believe that feeding a baby Sulcata tortoise 3 or 4 times a week is okay. But no, it is necessary to feed your baby Sulcata tortoise daily. You can offer them meals once or twice a day by dividing the whole meal into two halves.

The meals must include greens and nutritional items. Leave grasses and hays in the enclosure so that the tortoises can eat whenever they are hungry. Also, sprinkle supplements on the meals thrice a week.

You need to follow this feeding routine for one year.

Feeding Schedule For A Juvenile Sulcata Tortoise

Juvenile Sulcata tortoises have a slightly different feeding schedule than babies. Experts advise feeding the juvenile or young tortoises 5 times a week will work. You can skip any two days you want. There are no restrictions.

Feeding Schedule For An Adult Sulcata Tortoise

Once the tortoises grow old, they will not require feeding as frequently as before. A thrice-a-week meal routine is perfect for them. But there should always be enough grass and hay in the enclosure as the adults love grazing all day.

Sprinkle supplements on every meal of the adults. And yes, make sure the diet includes healthy and safer greens.

sulcata tortoise care infographic

For a printable version of this infographic, click here!

How Much Should You Feed A Sulcata Tortoise?

There is no exact rule of deciding the food amount for a Sulcata tortoise. Professionals claim that Sulcata tortoises do not overfeed. So, you can let these pets graze grass all day without worrying about obesity.

According to the general rule, you should feed your Sulcata tortoise the same amount of food as the weight of its shell. So, yes, the meal quantity will vary from age to age.

Generally, 1/4 cup of greens, grasses, and weeds every day works for the Sulcata tortoises under 6 months. After that period, switch to 1/2 cup of greens daily. If you feed your pets pellets, make sure the amount does not cross 1 to 4% of their total weight.

An adult Sulcata tortoise should have access to the grass, hay, and green all day. You can pile up the food in one corner or grow grasses inside the enclosure. This way, the pet will eat whenever it is hungry.

My Sulcata Tortoise Is Not Eating: Why?

Sulcata tortoise is not showing any interest in foods! How is that even possible? Well, it is a common problem that owners often face.

Why does a Sulcata tortoise stop eating? There can be several reasons responsible for this behavior. For example, lighting, illness, temperature, etc. The good thing is you can make your tortoise eat again with simple tricks.

Read through the probable reasons why your Sulcata tortoise is refusing to eat and how to bring its appetite back,

1. Temperature:

Sulcata tortoises are cold-blooded and can generate no body heat. Hence, they are totally dependent on external sources for warmth and heat. What happens if the temperature drops?

The tortoises slow down their metabolism to cope with the severe cold. They will become inactive, refuse to eat, and spend their days sleeping in the hole. This process is called brumation. A wild or outdoor tortoise will brumate when it is winter.

See also  Baby Sulcata Tortoise Feeding Guide For Beginners

So, what can you do?

Usually, experts advise moving the outdoor tortoise indoors if the cold is unbearable in your region. Or you can install heating lamps, heat blankets, or pads in the enclosure. You have to set up a high-quality heating bulb for an indoor tortoise habitat.

The tortoises will start eating again once the temperature rises.

2. No Access To Food:

If you provide food in a bowl, make sure the pets can access it easily. The tortoises will refuse to eat if they have to struggle a lot to get to the meal.

3. Low-Quality UV Light:

I have already mentioned the significance of UV lights in the tortoise habitat. If the pets are not getting enough UV rays, it will mess up their sleep and food habits.

So, install a high-quality UV lamp in the Sulcata tortoise habitat and keep it on 12 hours a day. If you have housed your tortoise in an outdoor enclosure, ensure that the pet gets enough sunlight every day.

4. Illness:

What if the enclosure is calibrated and still your tortoise is not eating? The chances are that your Sulcata tortoise is suffering from the disease. Pets with sickness often refuse to eat.

The common symptoms of sickness are,

  • Runny nose
  • Swollen eyes
  • Soft or deformed shell
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Discoloration of the skin, etc.

Your tortoise will eat again once you treat it with proper medicines.

5. Stress:

A newly bought Sulcata tortoise will take time to set in the enclosure. Change in the environment, frequent touch, and congested habitat often lead the tortoises to stress and anxiety. These mental issues might be the reason why your tortoise is not eating.

6. Boring Meals:

If you feed the same old meals to the Sulcata tortoises every day, they will get bored and lose appetite. Try adding new items to the chart and offer them treats twice or thrice a week.

Potential Health Issues And Treatments For Sulcata Tortoises

Sulcata tortoises can withstand rough and challenging conditions. Yet, the sickness always makes them weak. Any severe illness might deduct years from the long life of your pet Sulcata tortoise. So, you must know about the possible health issues of the tortoises and their primary treatment.

Calcium Deficiency:

Lack of calcium in food and insufficient UV rays cause calcium deficiency in Sulcata tortoises. The sick tortoises will have soft shells, deformed bones, or suffer from a more complex disease like MBD. Supplementing the meals with calcium dust and assuring a UV source will recover the condition.

Metabolic Bone Disease:

Insufficient UV rays and lack of calcium lead to MBD or metabolic bone disease. It hampers the healthy growth of bones and shells in tortoises. As a result, the Sulcata tortoise might face trouble walking or performing daily activities. Calcium supplements and a quality UV lamp is necessary to treat MBD.

Respiratory Infection:

Fungal attack in the lung of the Sulcata tortoise causes respiratory infection. A runny nose, discharge from eyes, trouble breathing, coughing, wheezing, etc., are the symptoms of respiratory illness. The condition gets severe if it goes untreated.

Poor husbandry and improper diet are responsible for respiratory illness. A balanced diet, proper housing arrangements, and prescribed medications can better your sick tortoise.


Feeding the Sulcata tortoise an excessive amount of protein can lead to pyramiding, where the pet has a bumpy shell. As this species is not a big fan of animal protein, this disease is rare among them. An appropriate diet will recover this condition.

Organ Failure:

Obesity, overfeeding, inappropriate diet, etc., can cause kidney damage, liver failure, and other health issues. No medication is effective for organ failure. But a routined and healthy life can make your tortoise live a painless life.

You can not predict any disease in your tortoise. So, you better look for the symptoms. If you notice anything abnormal, consult a vet immediately. I suggest taking your Sulcata tortoise for a regular check-up.

Sulcata Tortoise Breeding

As an experienced keeper and tortoise lover, I discourage you from breeding your Sulcata tortoise. The species is more common than you can think and not endangered. The concerned authorities are not encouraging people to adopt Sulcata instead of buying to balance the numbers.

A Sulcata tortoise gains sexual maturity when it grows 14 inches. Generally, Sulcata tortoises mate during hot summer days. The months range from June through March, after a rainy season. The gravid Sulcata tortoise will lay eggs in the following spring or winter.

Breeding is a stressful process, especially for female tortoises. They often get hurt because of the repeated ramming from the male partner. The females might have bloody heads or limbs after mating because of the aggressive behavior.

So, it is better to raise one Sulcata and avoid breeding. These tortoises do not need to mate each year and do not get lonely.

Sulcata Tortoise Typical Behavior

Do you know what the favorite pastime of a Sulcata tortoise is? These tortoises love grazing and burrowing.

Every day Sulcata tortoises will wake up early in the morning, bask in the sun, roam around and graze grass, and go to sleep when it is dark. An ideal routine, right?

Experts suggest that Sulcata tortoises graze for hours if the weather is cooler. They store energy to survive the cold.

On hot summer days, these creatures spend hours burrowing. They take shelter in the holes to escape the heat. In deserts, the tortoises sometimes rub their saliva on their arms to cool the body temperature.

Can You House A Full Grown Sulcata Tortoise Indoor?

It is not advisable to house an adult Sulcata tortoise inside your home and not because of the bulky size of the pet. But because it damages your house and the health of the pet.

Sulcata tortoises can go rough with the floors and try digging out everything. So, you can guess what kind of mess your house will be.

You can keep a Sulcata tortoise indoors only if there is an emergency. In that case, a basement is an ideal option to accommodate the pet. You need to clean the space, layer up the base with an insulation blanket, hang necessary lights on the top, and you are all set.

See, a basement environment is not perfect for the long-term stay. Try fostering your Sulcata tortoise or arrange a temporary home at the rescue centers.

Can Two Sulcata Tortoises Live Together?

Sulcata tortoises are solitary animals and do not necessarily look for a partner to spend their long life. You know this species grows about 32 inches big, and housing them requires space. Raising two beast Sulcata tortoises in the same habitat can be a challenging thing to do.

Focusing on the behavior, Sulcata tortoises are docile and friendly. But not always. The male Sulcata tortoises are aggressive and often fight to show dominance. These tortoises tend to flip one another to exhibit power. Even the females sometimes act harshly.

Hence it is better not to raise two Sulcata tortoises in a single enclosure. Still, if you want to, go for a male and female pair. However, male Sulcata tortoises become aggressive during the breeding season. Such behavior hurts the females physically.

Are Sulcata Tortoises Good As A Pet?

Sulcata tortoises are excellent pets both for beginners and experienced keepers. These creatures are friendly and playful. The Sulcata tortoises recognize their owners, which is indeed a pleasant thing.

As Sulcata tortoises are not harmful, your children can also play with them. Other than the behavior, Sulcata tortoises are low maintenance. It is easy to take care of these creatures if your house is big and in a warm region.

However, raising Sulcata tortoises might have a few challenges too. Such as,

  • You would require an enormous amount of space
  • You have to deal with the damages due to burrowing
  • You have to be prepared for a long-term commitment, etc.

Compare both the points and see if the species fit you or not.


Sulcata tortoises are unique and have an excellent reputation as pets. I highly encourage petting a Sulcata tortoise if you have the space and support. These tortoises are low maintenance and almost live by themselves. Contact an expert if you find any inconsistency handling these tortoises.

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About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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