Psammobates pardalistortoisel port1


  • Testudinidae


  • Wild: 100 years
  • Captivity: 75 years


  • Length: 11- 37 inches long
  • Weight: 30 - 120 lbs


  • Africa and Ethiopia


  • Range from dry arid plains to rassland ecosystems, most live in shrub type habitats.


  • Wild: Low lying vegetation, berries, and fruits when available.
  • Zoo: Fresh vegetables and fruit daily. During the summer, they have access to an outdoor exhibit and will graze on the fresh grass. 


  • Monogamous
  • They bury their eggs, which have a gestation period of 9 - 12 months.
  • Females can lay 5 - 7 clutches a year.
  • Mothers leave after hatching, causing the hatchlings to be independent immediately.
  • Temperature-dependent births, meaning that the eggs are born male or female depending on the temperature.

General Informationtortoisel 2

  • Some believe that you can determine the age of a tortoise by counting the rings on its shell. However, this is not possible. The rings or scutes are formed during growth periods and leopard tortoises (like all tortoises) may grow at different times and rates during the year.
  • The leopard tortoise is one of the largest mainland tortoises and has an elevated carapace (the top part of the shell) that is tawny, yellow or buff, with brown centers to each scute with black radiations and spots. Because of this pattern, they've been given the name "leopard."
  • The male has a slightly concave plastron near the tail and a longer tail.
  • African Leopard Tortoises, like all tortoises and turtles, cannot come completely out of their shell. Their spine is fused to the underside of the carapace. 

Differences Between a Turtle and a Tortoise

  • Turtles have flat feet with long claws that help them swim, where as tortoises have elephant-like feet to help them walk on land.
  • Some tortoises, like the African leopard tortoise, are so heavy and dense that they cannot swim at all, and will drown in water levels above their head.
  • Turtles generally are more hydrodynamic, meaning they have a flatter shell that is less water resistant. This allows them to swim quickly.


  • IUCN: Lower Risk
  • CITES: Appendix II
    • The biggest threat to this species is human beings, which harvest them for food and for illegal export for the pet industry.

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  1. CITES Appendices. Accessed December 2012.
  2. IUCN Red List. Accessed December 2012.
  3. Smithsonian National Zoological Park: Leopard Tortoise Fact Sheet.

**All animal information is meant to be an educational resource. It may not include all the latest scientific information. Though we edit our information we cannot guarantee the accuracy of all facts presented.