Dr. Anna Coffin has had the pleasure of caring for her Sulcata Tortoise, Scooter, for 8 years and wants to share the adventures of this amazing creature. These gentle, curious giants are fascinating creatures. Videos of Scooter in action will be towards the end of the blog.
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- Common Name: African Spurred Tortoise or African Spur Thigh
- Size: 24-36 inches and 100-200 pounds
- Lifespan: 50+ years
- Temperature: 70-100 degrees Fahrenheit
- Natural Diet: Grasses and broad-leaved weeds that are high in fiber and low in protein, flowers and cactus
The Sulcata Tortoise is the third largest tortoise species in the world. The Galápagos Tortoise (first largest) and the Aldabra Tortoise (second largest) live on island chains, which makes the Sulcata Tortoise the largest Mainland tortoise!
Dr. Anna Coffin acquired Scooter in 2007 from a client. Scooter was about three years old and weighed less than 10 pounds and was about the size of her hand. Eight years later he weights over 50 pounds.
Here in Oklahoma, it is hot enough in the summers for him to stay outside all summer long. Sulcata Tortoises dig burrows to escape from the heat during the hottest part of the day. The first summer, Scooter tried digging a burrow right next to the fence. He ended up getting stuck high center under the fence and luckily was unable to escape. He finally found a more suitable spot which he now calls his home. Dr. Anna even built a wooden structure to help protect him from the direct sun when he is in the burrow.
But in the winter he must stay inside. Dr. Anna chose not to hibernate Scooter, so over the last eight years he has been in three different size cages. His latest and hopefully final inside area, is tiled and has a temperature controlled floor with additional heat and light sources from above. Sulcata tortoises are very curious creatures and really don’t like being confined. He has attempted many times to escape his enclosures and a few times has ended upside down, which can be a death sentence for them.
Scooter loves people and enjoys getting his neck scratched. His favorite food is Hibiscus flowers. About the only thing he does not like is being picked up. He is very curious about new things and really likes bright colors, especially anything red. One of our dogs broke his leg and had a cast. Scooter was so curious about that cast he spent a good week chasing the dog.
Enjoy some video footage of Scooter on the go!
Dr. Anna has really enjoyed caring for Scooter and is looking forward to many more years of adventure. Scooter will most likely outlive Dr. Anna so she will have to make plans for his care when she is gone. Dr. Anna says the hardest part about owning a Sulcata Tortoise is their size. They require a lot of space and keeping one in your house during the winter is like living with a cow!
Dr. Anna Coffin recommends doing research before you decide what type of reptile is right for you and your family. petMD® has added a Reptile Care Center to their site. This is an excellent source for accurate information because all of the information is written or reviewed by a veterinarian. Visit PetSmart® online store for all your reptile supplies.
For more reptile information read these blog posts by Dr. Anna:
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Dr. Anna was born and raised in Guthrie, Oklahoma. As a teenager, Dr. Anna found her beloved pet dead on the side of the road left to die without any help. That was the moment she decided to become a vet and vowed to help other people and their pets. After a few years of practicing in New Hampshire, Dr. Anna became homesick and decided to return to Guthrie to be with her parents and five other siblings. Family and friends are a major part of our lives which is why we treat our clients at Guthrie Pet Hospital as family. Dr. Anna and her husband do not have children but are very proud pet parents and, therefore, treat every four-legged friend as part of the family.