looks like a dinosaur…?!

29 07 2010

The African Spurred Tortoise (Geochelone Sulcata), is a species of tortoise which inhabits the southern edge of the Sahara desert, in northern Africa.

Large, overlapping scales cover the front surface of the forelimbs, while the hind surface of the thigh bears two or three large conical spurs, from which the species earns its name.

African spurred tortoise populations have declined rapidly in the face of habitat loss, particularly in Mali, Chad, Niger and Ethiopia, largely as a result of urbanisation, overgrazing by domestic livestock and desertification

Burrows may average 30 inches in depth; some dig tunnel systems extending 10 feet or more underground.

The Sulcata is the third largest species of tortoise in the world after the Galapagos tortoise, and Aldabra Giant Tortoise; and the largest of the mainland tortoises.

Adults are usually 18″ in shell length, and weigh 70 to 100 lbs. Specimens with 24 to 36″ long shells weighing 150 lbs are not unknown.

They grow from hatchling size (2-3″) very quickly, reaching 6-10 ” within the first few years of their lives. The oldest known of this species was 56 years old although it is believed they can live up to about 80 years.

In Senegal, the African spurred tortoise is a symbol of virtue, happiness, fertility and longevity and, as such, conservation programmes have been easier to promote in this country. Her name is Marley & she’s only 5 years old.

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