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Sulcata Full Grown Size – At What Age Do Sulcata Tortoises Stop Growing?

Considering the huge size of sulcata tortoises, one can’t help but wonder, ‘at what age do sulcata tortoises stop growing? It’s important to know the age sulcatas stop growing so that you’ll know upfront what you’re in for.

Sulcata tortoises are the third most giant tortoises in the world [Source]. They grow fast during the first five to ten years. And, just like humans, they do stop growing when they reach a certain size.

Most people don’t know at what size they should expect their sulcata tortoises to stop growing. As such, they tend to get worried when their sulcata can no longer show any sign of growth.

For this reason, we came up with this article to help you understand your sulcata growth rate. And, at what size you can consider your sulcata fully grown. 

This article has been reviewed by Dr. Dilber. Read more about our knowledge control process here.

Sulcata Full Growth Size

Do Sulcata Stop Growing After Reaching Full Growth Size?
Do Sulcata Stop Growing After Reaching Full Growth Size?

Sulcata tortoises being the third-largest tortoise, can grow to an average size of 25-30 inches when fully grown. Also, they can weigh 80-150 pounds

In the wild, sulcata tortoises can hit a 200-pound mark depending on their species and sex. For instance, male sulcatas get larger compared to their female counterparts. 

The largest sulcata had the weight of 216 pounds and a size of 32.6 inches.

Also, the female Sudanese sulcata tortoise’s size can average the regular sulcata tortoise. On the other hand, the male Sudanese sulcata tortoises tend to get larger, hitting the 200-pound mark.

Even so, as hatchlings, sulcata tortoises are tiny and can measure 2-5.3 inches. The average weight of sulcata tortoise hatchlings is 35-40 grams. 

As you can see, sulcata tortoises are born tiny but get to grow very fast. Their size will differ from one sulcata to another. 

In most cases, the average growth rate of sulcatas can vary across the board. And this can happen without any underlying reason. 

However, factors such as proper diet and housing can affect the average growth of a sulcata. 

Therefore, if your sulcata tortoise growth rate seems to be slowing down, you should ensure that they are getting proper housing and diet. 

Besides that, two sulcata tortoises provided with the same diet and housing can have different growth rates. 

Unfortunately, there is no apparent reason for their different growth pattern.  

How Big Should Your Sulcata Be? 

Sulcata tortoises are pretty small at birth. And, if you just brought a baby sulcata in your home, you should be ready for it to grow massively. 

Sulcata tortoises are the largest after Galapagos and Aldabra giant tortoises. During their first year, the sulcata tortoise can weigh approximately 1.7-2.2 pounds. 

The average size of a one-year sulcata tortoise is 3-5inches. However, every sulcata has its own growing pace. 

During the second year, sulcata tortoises add weight and even grow by size. The average length of a two-year-old sulcata tortoise is 6-8 inches and weighs approximately 1.7-2.2 pounds.

In their third year, sulcata tortoises add at least 5-10 pounds. The average weight of a three-year-old sulcata tortoise is 9-10 inches and weighs approximately 5.6 pounds.

At year four, sulcata tortoises are still young and still growing. They are considered juveniles, and they are nowhere near reaching maturity age.

At five years, the average size of a sulcata is anywhere between 5.6-8.0 pounds. 

However, each sulcata tortoise’s growth rate can vary depending on its health, diet, genes, and enclosures.

A well-kept sulcata tortoise is likely to grow faster compared to the ones with poor husbandry. 

Here is a chart showing the average size of sulcata tortoises by ages.

Weight (Pounds)Length (Inches)
1 year 1.7-2.2 3-5 
2 years 1.7 – 2.26-8 
3 years 4.68-9
4 years 5.69-10
5 years 5.6-8.010-12
average size of sulcata tortoises by ages

So, At What Age Do Sulcata Tortoises Stop Growing?

Sulcata tortoises only grow fast during their first five years. After that, their growth becomes slow, and you can almost not notice the changes. 

To ensure that your sulcata does not have stagnant growth, you should measure and weigh them at least once every three months or annually. 

Any slight change in growth is suitable for five years and above sulcatas.

Vet advice: The growth of sulcata is fas during the first 5 years. So, in first 5 years you should feed grower feed/diet to the sulcata. The diet should have high protein level to promote the healthy growth.

When Do Sulcata Reach Fully Grown Size?

Sulcata tortoises will continue growing until they are 15-20 years old. Before this, sulcata tortoises are considered small, especially when they are seven years and below.

Sulcata tortoises have a long life span and almost the same as humans. As such, their growth rate is nearly similar to that of humansSulcata tortoises can live more than 70years or up to 100 years.

Your sulcata tortoises, even though they are small at hatchling, they tend to grow faster. Thus, you need to plan an ample space for them to be comfortable in captivity. 

Unfortunately, there is no way or method you can use to tell how big your sulcata tortoise can get. Sulcata tortoise’s growth rate differs from one tortoise to another. 

For instance, it’s possible to have one tortoise measuring 10″ at ten years and another 15″ at five years. 

It is, therefore, difficult to tell the age of sulcata using their size. However, sulcata tortoises reach their full-grown size at the age of 15 – 20 years. 

It is at this age that you should consider your sulcata an adult. At this age, their average size is 90 – 200 pounds depending on their sex and species. 

However, the regular sulcata only tends to reach a maximum size of 90-150 pounds for males and 70-90 pounds for females in captivity. Their average height of an adult sulcata is 15” with a width of 24-30” and a length of 25-30″.

Can I Tell If My Sulcata Will Stop Growing at a Specific Size?

You can expect your sulcata tortoise to grow extremely fast for the first five to ten years of its life. But, from the eleventh year of their life, their growth rate starts to slow down dramatically. 

at what age do sulcata tortoises stop growing
a juvenile sulcata tortoisse

However, it is almost impossible to predict how large your sulcata will grow. It is because sulcata tortoises run scope growth rates. Therefore, it is possible to have three years old measuring 14″ or an equal size adult even though you provide the same diet.

You can compare your sulcata growth rate to human growth. Imagine if two babies were born on the same day eating the same food and still one gets bigger than the other. Also, one can stay small during their first ten years and then suddenly grow fast in their teenage years.

It is, therefore, not easy to tell when your sulcata will stop growing. But, at 15-20 years, they attain their fully grown size. 

What Affects Sulcata Tortoise Growth Rate?

Sulcata tortoises have no standard growth rates. However, several factors can affect your sulcata tortoise’s growth rates. If you provide a proper diet and habitat for your sulcata, slow growth should not worry you as they can be genetic.

The factors that affect sulcata tortoise growth also include health status, living conditions, and crude protein percentage during the first 7 years.

Here are some of the factors that affect sulcata growth rates


Sulcatas keep growing but the growth rate in the first 7 years affects their overall size when they become fully adult. So, the protein in the first 7years plays an important role in determining the size of adult sulcata.

A proper diet is critical to keep your sulcata healthy and happy in captivity. Lack of proper diet can lead to many health issues that can eventually affect their growth rate.

A good diet for sulcata tortoise should include food with high fiber. Food rich in fiber should at least make 80% of your sulcata diet.

Food rich in proteins can exaggerate their growth rate and thus cause vital organ failure. 

Additionally, a high percentage of vegetables and fruits can also affect your sulcata growth rate. Therefore, you should provide 80% fiber, 10-15% vegetables, and 10% fruits.

Poor Husbandry

Poor husbandry can also affect the sulcata growth rate. To help your sulcata tortoise maintain a healthy growth rate, you should ensure that you provide a habitat similar to their natural environment.

Sulcata tortoises originate from the Sahara desert, where the climate is harsh. In captivity, you should provide proper heating, a UV source, and a well-hydrated habitat.

Lack of proper habitation causes sulcata tortoise’s stress and ill health and thus affecting their growth rate.


Genetics can also affect sulcata growth rate. It’s a  natural effect, and thus, nothing can be changed. Just keep on observing your sulcata growth rate to ensure it’s growing.

Do Sulcata Tortoises Continue Growing After They Reach Adult Size?

Do Sulcata Tortoises Continue Growing After They Reach Adult Size?
Do Sulcata Tortoises Continue Growing After They Reach Adult Size?

Sulcata tortoise age does not affect their growth rate. Thus, a sulcata tortoise can reach adulthood and continue growing.

However, after they reach their maximum adult size, they seize growing further. Their adult age is usually 15-20 years, while their adult size is anything between 70-200 pounds and 24-30 inches.

Well-kept sulcata tortoises can reach seven inches within a year and add five to ten pounds a year. 

Fully understanding your Sulcata will help you better take care of them. As a suggestion, we would recommend you to get a good Sulcata book. Not to become an expert on Sulcata care but will help you avoid the common mistake in new pet tortoise owners.

Last update on 2022-12-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Wrapping Up

Keeping your sulcata happy and healthy should be your primary goal. Luckily, sulcata tortoises are easy to care for.  Lack of good diet, proper habitation, and bad health can affect their growth rate.

Therefore, you should ensure to provide proper care to prevent stagnant growth related to human-made errors. 

However, if your sulcata tortoise is growing gradually under appropriate care, you should not be worried. 

The best way to know if your sulcata tortoise is experiencing an average growth rate is by calculating its BMI. The formula for calculating tortoise BMI is SCL cm3 x 0.91 = TWT gr.

SCL is the length of a carapace in centimeters. For instance, if your sulcata Carapace’s total length is 15cm, you multiply 15x15x15, and then multiply the answer with 0.91. The answer you get is the total weight in grams.

We wish you all the best with your sulcata tortoise.

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