The African Spur Thigh tortoise is native to African grasslands. It is the largest mainland tortoise and the third largest species overall.
How To Raise An African Spur Thigh Tortoise
Adults are capable of being every bit of 36 inches long with a weight of 150 pounds but the average size is usually about half of that.
This long-lived species is believed to be capable of living to be 50 years old.
Your African Spur Thigh Tortoise is a strict vegetarian so never attempt to feed it insects or animal matter because their sensitive digestive systems cannot properly digest these types of food.
They require a variety of dark leafy greens, grass, vegetables and fruit with at least 80 percent of their diet being grass, greens and hay and the 20 percent being made up from fruits and vegetables.
They love any kind of grass, clover, collard greens, escarole, timothy hay, kale, dandelion greens and alfalfa hay. Small amounts of moist greens like green and red leaf lettuce, cabbage and butter lettuce can also be offered.
Many people raising an African Spur Thigh tortoise find it helpful to plant a few different types of grass seeds in shallow pans.
You can then rotate these pans through the tank so your tortoise can graze on the growing seeds. Feel free to offer it apples, berries, peaches, peas, beans, carrots, etc. but never feed it iceberg lettuce.
Around two to four times a week you may want to sprinkle Multivitamin Powder and Rep-Cal Calcium on its food.
Tank Set Up
In the wild, the African Spur Thigh tortoise has an extremely large territory so you need to provide them as much space as possible.
A hatchling should be given at least a 20 gallon tank and at the age of 1 they should be moved to a 70 gallon tank or a custom made large enclosure.
Once they reach two years old, they will need every bit of warm, large basement to roam in or if you reside in a warm location they can live in an enclosed area outside.
Lighting And Heating
You will need to have two different types of lights turned on for your African Spur Thigh tortoise at least 10 to 12 hours per day.
At the opposite side of your tortoise’s hiding place, an incandescent bulb needs to be attached to the top of the tank.
The size of the tank will determine the power of the bulb, it could be as low as a 15 watt bulb or as high as a 75 watt bulb.
You will want to place one thermometer under the tank to be sure the temperature is 95 degrees and another thermometer at the other end of the tank to be sure it is 10 to 20 degrees cooler.
This light will need to be turned off at night but if the temperature drops to below 72 degrees, you can rotate a blue or black light in its place at night.
The African Spur Thigh tortoise requires a UVA/UVB fluorescent light also. This acts as a replacement of the sun and provides vitamin D3 to help the tortoise absorb calcium in its body.
This light needs to be positioned 8 to 12 inches from your tortoise’s basking spot and should be replaced approximately every 6 to 12 months.
This should also be turned off at night.
Heating pads or hot rocks are not ever recommended to use with your tortoise. There have been reports of the animal burning themselves on them.
You can however, provide a nice rock under the light for it to sprawl out on.
The shell of your tortoise needs to be cleaned weekly with a special shell conditioner you can purchase at a pet store.
This is important so that it doesn’t dry out and get brittle. You should also soak it in warm water in a shallow dish for around 15 to 30 minutes, 3 times a week.
Before purchasing your African Spur Thigh tortoise you must take into consideration the massive size that these animals grow to so make sure that you have the room and that you are ready for the long term commitment as they are capable of outliving you.