African Spurred Tortoise

African Spurred Tortoise
African Spurred Tortoise © eddmaps

The African Spurred Tortoise, Geochelone sulcata, called Ìjàpá in Yoruba and celebrated in many of its folktales as a wise animal, is found in the north of Nigeria and other Sahel regions. They adapt to arid environments through a few means; their thick skin which limit moisture loss, very little discharge of urine, and burrow digging which helps in escaping the hottest, driest part of the day.

The carapace in this tortoise, which is the largest in African mainland, displays prominent grooves at the front and back margins and growth rings on each scute, which become particularly marked with age. Diet of the African Spurred Tortoise includes dry grasses, succulent plants, and cacti. Copulation takes place right after the rainy season for the mature, over 25 years old individual. After mating, the female’s body will swell with eggs and she will decrease her food intake. The eggs incubate underground for about eight months. The African Spurred Tortoise may live for more than 100 years.