African Spur-thighed Tortoise

African Spur Thighed Tortoise at Wingham Wildlife Park

African Spur-Thighed Tortoise Natural History


The average size of this tortoise is around 18 inches (45cm) with weights of 70 to 100 pounds.

Habitat and Distribution

Generally the habitat of this tortoise is made up to arid grassland, savannah and thorny scrub, across Chad, Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan. They live in burrows averaging around 30 inches in depth, however they have been recorded in burrows up to 10 feet long.


This species is thought to live to ages of around 80 years.


Due to the very dry areas which this species inhabits they very rarely come across fruits as part of their diet, however they may occasionally eat small numbers of berries. The bulk of their diet is made up from eating leafy plants and from grazing.

Groups and Breeding

This species only lays a small number eggs per year (between 4 to 10) which may be spaced apart over as much as a month and thus laid in different nest sites. These eggs once laid will generally hatch out in around 80 to 90 days.


Due to their size this tortoise makes a very tough target for predators making its only real threat collection for the pet trade which has now been heavily restricted, leaving this tortoises population room to grow.

Interesting facts

This tortoise is known as one of the giant tortoises because even though its average shell size is around 18 inches, it is not uncommon for these to reach lengths of 24 inches to 36 inches (60cm – 90cm) and weighing up to 150 pounds (70Kg), with a record weight of 240 pounds (105Kg).

The Tortoises During Your Day Out in Kent

At Wingham Wildlife Park the African spur-thighed tortoises (also often called sulcata tortoises) are the second largest species which you will find.  They are housed opposite the ring tailed lemur walk through enclosure, sharing their space with our beautifully colourful macaws.