An adult tortoise with 4 hatchlings

Photo: Mike Aguilera/SeaWorld San Diego via Getty Images

Tortoise hatchlings

An adult African spurred tortoise keeps a careful eye on a litter of four hatchlings on June 14 as they explore a lawn at SeaWorld in San Diego, Calif. The adult, named Buster, is about 20 years old, and the young ones are just under a year old.


African spurred tortoises, also known as sulcata tortoises, are native to the southern edge of the Sahara desert in North Africa. Sulcatas can live to be 100 years old and can weigh up to 200 pounds, making them the third-largest tortoise in the world after the Galapagos and the Aldabra giant tortoises.


African spurred tortoises are often brought home as pets because of their pleasant temperament, but their longevity, size and diet requirements mean the creatures are often relinquished by overwhelmed pet owners.


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Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.