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Leopard tortoise

Scientific Name: Geochelone pardalis

A relative of the Aldabra tortoise, this attractive tortoise is commonly kept in captivity as a pet. They have dark brown-black spotted patterning against the cream background on their shell.

Although the leopard tortoise does not hibernate, some populations do have a period of inactivity during the cold and dry months that run from May to August. During this time the cold temperatures and lower food availability reduces the tortoises’ energy levels.

The breeding season is mainly during September and October. During this time both sexes become aggressive, head butting competitors away from their mates. The female will lay her eggs in burrows, the larger the female the more eggs she will lay. Five to seven clutches can be laid in a season.

The diet of a leopard tortoise consists of different vegetation including cacti, succulent plants, grasses, thistles, fungi and fruit. When there is little food available they will also eat bone fragments and ash to supplement their diet.

There is limited information on the leopard tortoise in the wild and they have been listed as Not Evaluated by the IUCN. They are threatened by the pet trade. Between 1987-1991, an estimated 76% of the tortoises exported from Africa for the pet trade were leopard tortoises. Habitat loss and the bush meat trade are also threats. They are considered a pest in much of their range as they eat crops and they are often killed in retaliation.

Key Facts:

  • Conservation Status: Not Evaluated
  • Distribution: Eastern Africa, Southern Africa
  • Habitat: Desert, Savannah, Scrublands
  • Diet: Flowers, Fruit, Grasses, Herbs, Leaves
  • Weight: 15 – 54kg
  • No. of young: 5 – 30
  • Life Span: 100 years

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