Biology Department


Stella is an African Spur Thighed Tortoise

Stella is an African Spur Thighed Tortoise (Geochelone sulcata), rescued by the department over 8 years ago. He is about 35 years old and will live to be 80 or maybe 100! Sulcata’s are the third largest tortoise species in the world. Stella is a male despite the name. He weighs 36 pounds and is 21 inches long. Stella eats mostly hay as their digestive systems are designed to handle nutrient poor desert grasses. We also feed him fresh greens everyday, such as: dandelions, kale, clover and romaine lettuce. However, he is a little spoiled and does get a tiny bit of fruit and vegetables, which he loves, but are not good for him! He does not usually bite, but is very food driven. So if anything looks remotely interesting (painted toenails) he might try to eat them.

Unfortunately, baby tortoises are available through the pet trade. Zoos and sanctuaries are often overrun with large tortoises as many people get them as babies and fail to realize how large and messy they actually get. Once pet tortoises outgrow aquariums their needs become overwhelming and often people abandon or abuse them. Unfortunately, these tortoises cannot be returned to their native habitat for several reasons, including disease. Stella is lucky and gets all the love, care, exercise and nutrition a sulcata could ever want!