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The African Spur-Thigh Tortoise

By Chris Taylor Monday, September 12, 2016

Welcome to the week of the African Spur-thigh Tortoise of Timbavati Wildlife Park. A tortoise is a land dwelling reptile that has both an endoskeleton and an exoskeleton in the form of its shell. One great way to tell you that you have a tortoise and not a turtle (though a tortoise is in the turtle family) is by looking at their feet. A turtle will have webbed flipper style feet. These are better suited for swimming whereas a tortoise will have claws with more stumpy appendages. Tortoises do not swim. My buddy Matt Schoebel told me that if you put it in the water it would sink like a rock.

Tortoises with lighter shells come from warmer climates and ones with darker shells come from cooler environments. There are about 40 different types of tortoises. The Aldabran and Galapagos Tortoises are the largest of the species and can weight up to and over 600 pounds. You can also tell the approximate age of a tortoise by counting the rings on the scutes (individual shell plates).

About African Spur-thigh Tortoise

Timbavati Wildlife Park is home to the third largest species of tortoise, the African Spur-thigh. This tortoise is a native of the Savannas and Saharan desert in Africa. They eat grasses, desert scrub and get their water from the plants that they eat, they’re really fond of the Morning Glory plant. Pretty much a really cool existence just wandering and grazing.

The spur-thigh mates just after the rainy season between September and November. After about 2 months of gestation, the female lays 15 to 30 eggs and then she fills her nest in with dirt and the babies hatch in about eight months.

Tortoises are cool characters and we have no shortage of them grooving around Timbavati Wildlife park. When you’re in the park if you’re lucky enough to see one go into it’s shell, listen to see if you can hear it exhale before it does. It has to expel the air in it’s body before it does.
You can watch more on the tortoise in this week’s video.


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