This page contains a
selection of the best links found on the reptile species:
Leopard Tortoise (Geochelone pardalis). The
navigation table on the top left will take you directly to the defined
topics, such as Natural Habitat, Captive care, Breeders, Pictures,
More information, Other information and Taxonomy.
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The Leopard tortoise is a large and attractively marked tortoise which has a wide distribution in sub-Saharan Africa, including recorded localities in southern Sudan, Ethiopia, Eastern Africa (including Natal), Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, Angola and Southwest Africa. In this species males may attain a greater size than females, a characteristic shared with certain other members of the genus Geochelone, including Galapagos tortoises.
Natural history: This is the most widely distributed tortoise in southern Africa. Found throughout the savannas of Africa, from Sudan to the southern Cape. They are commonly kept as pets and adapt well to captivity in most areas barring coastal Natal where the humidity affects them adversely.
This is the most widely distributed tortoise in southern Africa. Found throughout the savannas of Africa, from Sudan to the southern Cape. They are commonly kept as pets and adapt well to captivity in most areas barring coastal Natal where the humidity affects them adversely.
These large tortoises need a large area if confined in an enclosure, though it is preferable to give them the run of your garden if possible. If you cannot do this and have to construct an enclosure, work on a minimum of a 6m X 4m area for two tortoises.
We've been raising and caring for these delightful animals for 13 years and find them fascinating.
As you may know, there is strong disagreement among the experts as to whether there is just one subspecies (babcocki) or two (babcocki and pardalis) of Leopard Tortoises. We are certainly not experts on taxonomy, but based on our animals' geographic origin (South Africa), sizes, and fast growth rates of the babies, we believe we have the pardalis pardalis, Giant Leopard Tortoises.
I decided to write this basic care sheet some years ago after finding that although there is extensive information on the Leopard tortoise all over the internet, it is hard to find an easy to read, basic outline of keeping this species in the UK. They are very different from the usual Mediterranean species that are kept in this country and a great deal of thought and research should be done before committing to a leopard tortoise.
Tortoises are from the Order: Chelonia, Sub-order: Cryptodira. Cryptodira means "Hidden Neck". All tortoises in this group draw their heads straight back into the shell, "hiding" the neck. The Leopard Tortoises is from the family Testudinidae, meaning terrestrial or land tortoises.
Latin name: Geochelone pardalis
Native to: Savannahs of Africa from Sudan to the southern Cape.
Size: Leopard tortoises are the fourth largest tortoises in the world and the second largest on Mainland Africa. They can reach carapace sizes of over two feet in length and weigh over 100 pounds. Most specimens usually only reach carapace lengths of 15 - 18 inches and weigh 30 - 50 pounds.
Of the indigenous Chelonians it is mostly the leopard tortoise (Geochelone pardalis) which is kept as a pet. Unfortunately many are put in inadequate enclosures and expected to live on a totally unsuitable diet.
It is of course against the law to keep reptiles in captivity without a permit and in happier instances the owner of a newly acquired tortoise will apply for one. An official from Nature Conservation will then make sure that the facilities in which the reptile is to be kept are adequate and that the captive will be fed a proper diet.
The African Tortoise site was created to provide a knowledge base for Sulcata and Leopard Tortoises keepers. The focus of this site, is to create a better understanding of these unique and often misunderstood animals. This information was amassed from experienced breeders and keepers and published references. This site is continuously updated. Check back often.