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Sulcata Tortoises in Calabash, NC

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This is one of a series of posts about our trip to North Carolina in October 2021. Please see our post Sunset Beach, North Carolina for links to the other places and things we visited.

We were driving through Calabash, NC, which is just west of Sunset Beach, when we saw a man with several large tortoises in a vacant lot, so we stopped to see what he was doing there. He said they were Sulcata Tortoises (also known as the African Spurred Tortoise) and he was with a tortoise rescue.

Although Sulcata Tortoises are native to arid and semiarid regions of Africa, they can adapt to a variety of living conditions, which is one reason why they have become popular as pets. However, adults can reach 32 inches in length, weigh more than 200 pounds, and have a life expectancy of more than 70 years, which is why people dispose of them after a while. 

He described his tortoises and asked for a donation, but later, when I asked which group he represented, he hedged and said he was doing it by himself. I suspected he was using the tortoises to raise money for himself but a recent Google search (a link is the Additional Information section below) yielded several newspaper articles which indicate the man is a calabash native who rescues tortoises, usually from people who purchased a baby tortoise as a pet but later realize the tortoise had gotten too big. One newspaper article said his largest and oldest tortoise can eat about 80 heads of romaine lettuce a day, which costs about $160.

He had a truck and an enclosed trailer and there were at least four more tortoises in the trailer. While we were there a woman and a young boy stopped and the man invited the boy to ride one of the tortoises. He also said we could feed romaine lettuce to the tortoises, which we did. While we talked he was holding and stroking a baby alligator which he let Beverly hold – see more photos of the tortoises and the baby alligator in the Additional Images section below.

Additional Images

Additional Information

Google Search: tortoise man calabash nc

Wikipedia – African spurred Tortoise

Technical Data

Sulcata Tortoise

  • Date: 10/14/2021
  • Time: 4:18 PM
  • Camera: Canon EOS 77D
  • Lens: Canon EF-S 17-55 mm f/2.8 IS USM
  • Settings:
    • Lens: 38 mm, f/22
    • ISO: 3200
    • Shutter: 1/200 sec
  • Uncropped image is 6000 x 4000 px

Boy riding Sulcata Tortoise

  • Date: 10/14/2021
  • Time: 4:22 PM
  • Camera: Canon EOS 77D
  • Lens: Canon EF-S 17-55 mm f/2.8 IS USM
  • Settings:
    • Lens: 52 mm, f/22
    • ISO: 3200
    • Shutter: 1/200 sec
  • Cropped image is 5716 x 3811 px

Boy feeding Sulcata Tortoises in trailer

  • Date: 10/14/2021
  • Time: 4:24 PM
  • Camera: Canon EOS 77D
  • Lens: Canon EF-S 17-55 mm f/2.8 IS USM
  • Settings:
    • Lens: 17 mm, f/8
    • ISO: 800
    • Shutter: 1/40 sec
  • Uncropped image is 6000 x 4000 px

Beverly with Baby Alligator 2

  • Date: 10/14/2021
  • Time: 4:27 PM
  • Camera: Canon EOS 77D
  • Lens: Canon EF-S 17-55 mm f/2.8 IS USM
  • Settings:
    • Lens: 55 mm, f/8
    • ISO: 200
    • Shutter: 1/400 sec
  • Uncropped image is 6000 x 4000 px

Beverly with Sulcata Tortoise

  • Date: 10/14/2021
  • Time: 4:20 PM
  • Camera: Canon EOS 77D
  • Lens: Canon EF-S 17-55 mm f/2.8 IS USM
  • Settings:
    • Lens: 28 mm, f/22
    • ISO: 3200
    • Shutter: 1/200 sec
  • Uncropped image is 4000 x 6000 px

Beverly with Sulcata Tortoises in trailer

  • Date: 10/14/2021
  • Time: 4:23 PM
  • Camera: Canon EOS 77D
  • Lens: Canon EF-S 17-55 mm f/2.8 IS USM
  • Settings:
    • Lens: 17 mm, f/8
    • ISO: 800
    • Shutter: 1/30 sec
  • Uncropped image is 6000 x 4000 px

Beverly with Baby Alligator 1

  • Date: 10/14/2021
  • Time: 4:27 PM
  • Camera: Canon EOS 77D
  • Lens: Canon EF-S 17-55 mm f/2.8 IS USM
  • Settings:
    • Lens: 38 mm, f/8
    • ISO: 200
    • Shutter: 1/800 sec
  • Uncropped image is 6000 x 4000 px

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