The African Spur Thigh Tortoise, or the Sulcata tortoise is the third largest tortoise species on the planet.
Yes, it’s a tortoise, not a turtle.
The native habitat for it is the extremely hot Sahara desert.
Sulcata tortoise has developed a method of survival. It is neither nocturnal nor diurnal kind of animal. It is corpuscular. It comes out when the temperature's right. It comes out during the dawn hours and during the dusk hours. And the rest of the time at night and during the day, it stays in a burrow that it digs with those amazing claws.
Sulcata Tortoise is extremely important to its habitat because it's one of the few animals that has the capacity to dig those big holes.
And what lives in those burrows?
Everything else that lives in the desert. They can't get out of the heat so they use the tortoise's burrows.
This tortoise could live for 150 or more years in that really terrible environment of the Sahara desert.
It's a straight herbivore.
It nibbles on his food.
It chews a little bit of this, a little bit of that.
It eats it and then it walks tremendous distances in the course of the day. And if you ever kept one in captivity, you know an animal that eats grass and hay and cactus goes to the bathroom quite a lot.
It poops like you can't believe.
And what it does in the desert is eat the whole plant.
The plant goes through his digestive system that comes out now in manure. And that manure's got moisture to it. And the seeds can germinate after they go through his digestive system. And the animal literally makes a garden around the burrow that it lives.
It is so perfect of an ecosystem that when the tortoise moves out of that system, everything else collapses and the system dies off.
What's happening in that area of the world?
Of course, people are eating tortoises.
People are collecting tortoises for the pet trade and, little by little, tortoises like this are disappearing from the wild. .