Differences Between Sulcata Tortoises & Aldabra Tortoises

Differences Between Sulcata Tortoises & Aldabra Tortoises




I have been considering getting an aldabra tortoise for a while now. Might be ready to finally go for it with the next group of hatchlings you have coming in. I have a few questions:


1. I have a 12 year old female sulcata tortoise. She is very mellow compared to the behavior I hear other people describe for their Sulcatas (doesn't dig and will just stop if she comes up against any sort of barrier). From your site it sounds like the sulcata is usually the aggressor when housed with aldabras. I have a hard time imagining her being an aggressor. Do you think they might be able to be housed together? Obviously you can't say for sure and I am prepared to house them separately if need be. Just wanted to hear if you know of any people who have been able to house aldabras and sulcatas together successfully.


2. Do you think a female or male aldabra would be better in this situation? Are you able to guarantee sex?


3. My sulcata has chronic upper respiratory signs. She always has increased noise while breathing but never any nasal discharge or decreased appetite. Do I need to be concerned about her passing mycoplasma to the aldabra? 


4. How long do you think I should keep the aldabra separated from the sulcata? Does the aldabra have to be housed inside for the first year or is it okay for them to have outdoor time if the weather is suitable. 


Thanks in advance for your help.



Many Sulcatas have chronic respiratory discharge which is not Mycoplasma.

I have seen many Sulcatas that exhibit this condition .

typically the cure is a change in environment hotter and dryer and after a few years
i have seen the condition completely clear up.

on the other hand,  if in fact your sulcata does have Mycoplasma which was confirmed 
by a test then yes you will probably give the mycoplasma infection to your Aldabra  


Here is a article i wrote about mixing Sulcata and Aldabras 


Sulcata tortoises are very different from Aldabra tortoises. 
Aldabras are island tortoises, while Sulcatas live on the fringes of the desert in North Africa.
 Aldabras' natural environment has much higher humidity than the Sulcata tortoise. 
However, neither the Sulcata nor the Aldabra is very sensitive to humidity levels. 
In fact, they eat very similar diets and both like it hot. 
Sulcatas prefer hotter and dryer conditions, while Aldabras prefer cooler and wetter environments.

The biggest difference between a Sulcata and an Aldabra is their personalities. 
Sulcata tortoises are very aggressive and gregarious animals. 
They are ravenous eaters and make great pets because they are fun and easily engage with people. 
Kids love them because they are very active. 
However, while following you around the backyard, they might eat your flowers and everything in their path and even ram little Johnny.

On the other hand, Aldabras are more inquisitive and will poke and look for a treat or maybe just want you to give them a shower or scratch them for a while. 
Aldabras like to wake up and sunbathe for a while and start grazing and eating few hours before heading back to get out of the heat. 

Aldabras will come back out early in the evening to look around for a little snack or catch a light rain.
Sulcatas like to go out late in the day also thats when they put their digging skills to the test. 

They are experts at breaking out of pens and have been found walking the back streets and highways across the United States more than any other tortoise.
Its not unusual to find missing posters tacked up in super markets and on telephone pools like wanted outlaws 

Sulcatas can dig under a fence in a matter of hours, so to properly secure a Sulcata tortoise pen, you need to build a fence specifically designed to keep them in. 
Aldabras are not likely to dig under your fence; they will break through it with their tractor mentality or, in some cases, climb over it.

I have been amazed at what I have witnessed that they can climb over or climb out of.

If you house Sulcatas and Aldabras together, they typically get along for a few years. 

After all, they both have similar diets and both can eat the same food. 

They both like it hot, but Sulcatas prefer it hotter and drier, while Aldabras prefer it cooler and wetter. 


Sulcatas can't sit in mud or water for very long, as they are desert tortoises, and their skin is meant to protect against the sun, not shed water.

ther skin can leterely rot off their limbs. Aldabras, on the other hand, have nice smooth skin and like to sit in ponds and mud pits day after day.

Aldabras are peaceful, quiet animals, while Sulcatas are aggressive and very active, always looking to do something, usually eat or dig. 
After a few years of living together, the Aldabra will outgrow the Sulcata easily within four years. In the next five or six years, the Sulcatas will be dwarfed by the Aldabras. 

The Aldabras may actually hurt the Sulcata, as they are bulldozers and like to run over everything in their way or smash it down.

Mixing them together is not recommended because it can change the Zen Aldabra's behavior. When Aldabras are 600 pounds and 30 years old, 
they stand like statues frozen in time, and we want to preserve that.
Sulcatas are digging machines and are referred to as the African Gopher Tortoise. 

They are designed to be aggressive, with two built-in rams at the front of their bodies, gular scutes designed specifically to ram things, 
hopefully another tortoise. 
Obviously, their ramming behavior is reflected in males much more than females.


Typically males are more curious and outgoing than females.

Females can be extremely tame as can Males.

even though every animal is an individual.

general males act more male.


I have customers who house their Sulcatas and Aldabras together,  some get along fine, typically with Female Sulcatas 

on the other hand Male Sulcatas may Ram the Aldabras, that is what you dont want.

so in some cases it works and in some cases it doesn't work.

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