Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in posts
Search in pages

Leopard Tortoise

Appearance

The leopard tortoise is the world’s fourth largest tortoise species. Their elevated shell (known as a carapace) features a range of pyramid shaped peaks. These are coloured yellow or cream with black dots at the centre of the pyramids surrounded by dots, dashes and stripes of black. As they age these may fade to brown or grey.

Leopard tortoises can attain lengths of up to 61cm (2ft) long and can measure up to 32kg (70lb). Males are different to females as a result of their slightly longer tail.

Diet

Leopard tortoises are herbivores. Most of their diet is plants with a small amount of berries and fruits such as prickly pair also eaten. The majority of their diet consists of forbs. They also consume small amounts of bones as a means of obtaining extra calcium.

Range

Africa is the native home of leopard tortoises where they can be found in Botswana, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Leopard tortoise

Scientific Name

Stigmochelys pardalis

Conservation Status

Least Concern

Length

61cm (2ft)

Weight

32kg (70lb)

Lifespan

Up to 100 years

Diet

Herbivorous

Habitat

Across their range can be found in habitats such as dry arid plains, shrub areas and temperate grasslands. They do not live in areas which are too cold and damp.

Reproduction

Mating takes place across most of Africa in the spring with the exception being South Africa where it occurs during September and October. As you head North breeding seasons lasts for longer.

Males will spend days following around a female before mating with her. In their quest to find a female, males will spend their time pushing and butting each other until one is overturned and the other is able to approach the female and mount her. During this process he will emit a deep-pitched groan or bellow.

Following the mating females will dig a hole in the sand into which they can deposit 5 to 30 eggs. They may do this 5-7 times in a single breeding season. Each clutch has 3 to 4 weeks in between being laid. The eggs are white and frail.

The eggs incubate in the ground for eight to eighteen months. Once they hatch the hatchlings come to the surface and are responsible for caring for themselves.

Sexual maturity occurs at 5 years old.

Behavior

Leopard tortoises would rather retreat into their shell when threatened than try to fight an attacker. While doing this they emit a squeaking sound. Predators of this species include humans, foxes, cats and mongooses.

These tortoises are extremely good climbers due to their toenails. They are also able to go underwater for up to 10 minutes.

Groups of leopard tortoises will form a social hierarchy with dominance established via aggression..

Quick facts

A group of tortoises is known as a creep.

The shell markings on each individual tortoise is unique to them.

When a leopard tortoise overturns their shell shape means that they are able to turn themselves.

Photo Credits


Top

By Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE (Leopard Tortoise (Stigmochelys pardalis)) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Bottom

By Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE (Leopard Tortoise (Stigmochelys pardalis)) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

References

Baker, P.J., Kabigumila, J., Leuteritz, T., Hofmeyr, M. & Ngwava, J.M. 2015. Stigmochelys pardalis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T163449A1009442. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T163449A1009442.en. Downloaded on 26 April 2020.

highland wildlife park forest reindeer

Highland Wildlife Park Name Their Reindeer Calves 

lesser hedgehog tenrecs houston

Keepers at Houston Zoo Help Raise Orphaned Lesser Hedgehog Tenrecs 

WCS Cross river gorilla

WCS Share Rare Photos of Cross River Gorilla Family 

We're Social. Follow Us

We share awesome animal photos daily

Featured Animal

little penguin
Koala

Join Our Mailing List to Get Daily Animal Profiles & Animal News Delivered to Your Mailbox.