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The Gentle Giants of Parque Reptilandia

~ by Roel de Plecker

Parque Reptilandia is home to a big variety of native and exotic species.

One of these exotic species is our African spurred tortoises (Centrochelys sulcata). They are Africa’s largest mainland tortoises with a carapace length up to 83 centimeters and a maximum weight to 105 kilograms. Only the giant island species of Galápagos and Aldabra surpass them in size. The latter is also to be seen at the park.

African spurred tortoises have forelimbs that are covered with large overlapping scales and the hind surface of their thighs bear two to three conical spurs, hence the name of this species. Due to the size of these beautiful creatures, they need to eat a lot of vegetables, grasses, flowers, and fruits. 

Their lifespan is over 70 years.

Gentle Giants , giant turtles, tortugas gigantes

They are native to the Sahel and Sahara deserts where they roam grasslands, savannas, and thorn shrub lands. At the hottest part of the day, they stay in burrows which they excavate themselves to get to the areas with more moisture; this is called aestivation.

Currently, we have 2 males and 3 females; all are living peacefully together.

The biggest male is without doubt the strongest and he is the one concurring all the females! In breeding times, males seem to be aggressive towards one another, and they can be seen ramming into each other and attempting to even flip the other tortoise on his back. 

The enclosure at Reptilandia is spacious enough and the smaller male seems to be well aware of the strength of his rival, so he keeps himself away from him. We still have a lot of eggs in our incubator waiting to hatch. African spurred tortoises can lay up to 30 eggs which are buried in the sand. The incubation period is around 8 months. 

So come and see these giants and their offspring at Parque Reptilandia!

INFO: Roel de Plecker - rulito76@yahoo.com