Star Tortoise

ZOO LOCATION: The Loft


Lifespan: 30-35 years

Wild Diet: 100% herbivorous; mixed grasses, fruit and succulents.

Zoo Diet: Salad greens other than lettuce

Predators: Humans

SSP: Yes

IUCN Status: Least Concern


Habitat/Range: Semi-arid lowland forests and grasslands of Southern and Central India and Sri Lanka.

Characteristics: The female is larger (reaching ten inches long) and has a bumpier and much broader shell than the male (about six inches). The males have much slimmer and smoother shells. Shell is a grayish brown with golden to golden brown star patterns. Each star is centered on a pyramidal bump on the shell. Coloration blends in with the habitat and breaks up the shell shape when they are among tufts of grass.

Behavior: Males are aggressive towards one another. Likes to drink and soak in shallow water. Most feeding and mobility takes place in the early morning and late afternoon. Hides under bushes or tufts of grass. Does not hibernate. Shape is presumed to be specially adapted to naturally assist it to return to a stable stance after it has been turned over. Does not tolerate damp or cold, but does enjoy warm rainfall periodically.

Reproduction: Males aggressive towards females in the breeding season. Nesting during rainy season. Five-7 eggs laid in a hole dug in the ground and covered by soil. Lays a clutch 3 to 9 times a year. Incubation period is around 50 to 150 days. Young often have to wait after hatching for a rainstorm to loosen the soil enough for them to leave. Hatchling are quite small, being around 1.2 inches at hatching. The hatchlings grow very fast, at six months they are around one third larger than when they hatched. Hatchlings have very smooth shells. The shells begin to "pyramid" around one year of age

Conservation: Indian Star Tortoises are listed as Appendix II under the Convention for the International Trade of Endangered Species, Flora and Fauna. This means that wild animals can not be exported without special permits. Threats to wild populations also include disease and over-hunting.


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