The African spurred tortoise is Seneca Park Zoo’s largest tortoise and is the world’s largest mainland tortoise. A male and a female are on exhibit at the Zoo. The Zoo’s keepers call the male tortoise, larger and pushier than the female, Bulldozer. He rams any new object in the exhibit, including the keepers. The female, Shelly, likes to find places to hide from Bulldozer. The two tortoises have huge appetites and eat pounds of vegetation and fruits each day.
Status in the Wild
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List status: Vulnerable. Its population has declined rapidly because of habitat loss due to the urbanization and desertification in Africa. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) declares the capture of wild African spurred tortoises illegal, but the trade continues to deplete the juvenile population, which threatens the whole species because it depletes the population before they can reach reproductive age.
African spurred tortoises live in semi-arid dry regions, woodlands and desert-like grass and shrub lands. They can be found in the lands bordering the Sahara desert in Central Africa.
The African spurred tortoise is a herbivore. It eats dried grass, leaves and cacti. One of their favorite foods is the morning glory plant.