Best 12 Indian Star Tortoise Facts, Weight, Diet

Indian star tortoise

Sometimes, I wonder about nature that how God has sent so many beautiful creatures into the world! The tortoise on which I am going to talk about is literally amazing. Its shells have a stars-like pattern over its carapace, which totally falls a glimpse in the eyes of its visitor. Its name is Indian star tortoise and likewise its name, it is found in India as well as in Sri Lanka and Pakistan also. It has the scientific name of Geochelone elegans.” Let’s talk about it in detail!

Where are star tortoises found in India?

If you want to see this tortoise, go have a visit to scrub forest or dry areas in India. You will surely find it there. In India, they are found in Western India and southeastern India. It is declared as a threatened species, and that’s why in the future, we might be able to see this beautiful creature anymore. 

Indian star tortoise 1

Indian star tortoise classification

Let’s have a look at its classification: 

Scientific Name Geochelone elegans
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Reptilia
Order  Testudines
Suborder Cryptodira
Superfamily Testudinoidea
Family Testudinidae
Genus Geochelone
Species G. elegans
Diet  Herbivores
Lifespan  25 to 80 years.
Weight 1 to 6.6 kg
Incubation period  90 to 170 days.  
Trophic level Herbivores
Length  6 to 12 inches

Indian star tortoise physical appearance

With no nuchal scute, and undivided supracaudal (gland on the upper surface of its tail), this tortoise’s dorsal shields on its back take the form of humps, and the lateral margins are somehow vertical. However, The posterior margin is strongly serrated and almost expanded. Its head, tail, and limbs have yellow to tan color. Some dark blotches and spots are also added to their skin. Each scute on its carapace forms a star-like shape.

Indian star tortoise size

Their size varies with regions in which they live, Southeastern Indian tortoise is smaller than one found in Sri Lanka. Northern Indian tortoises are also bigger than southeastern ones. However, while talking on average How big do Indian star tortoises get? Females are often larger than male tortoises. Its carapace surface can grow on an average of 10 to 12 inches while at the same time, male tortoises can have a length of 6 to 8 inches. 

Indian star tortoise weight

Just like their sizes, female tortoises also weigh more than male tortoises. However, on average, this tortoise can weigh about 1 to 6.6 kg. Along with their size and weight, the thickness of the tail and a concave plastron is also different between the two. 

Indian star tortoise diet

Being herbivores, Indian star tortoise food majorly consists of grasses, fruits, flowers, herbaceous leaves, and sometimes anonymously, insects. During the seasonal dry and hot periods, food is not available to them in high quantities so they go on for a longer period of time without eating. 

What to feed your Indian star tortoise?

Give them plenty of freshwater and leafy greens mostly of dark color and likewise grasses. You can also give them a diet consisting of timothy hay, orchard grass, Bermuda grass, ryegrass alfalfa, and fescue too. Consider giving them greens consisting of higher calcium to phosphorus ratio believe me it would be beneficial for them. Let me name some of them:- parsley, dandelion greens, kale, endive, escarole, mustard greens, and spineless cactus leaves. 

Indian star tortoise 2

Indian star tortoise facts

  1. It seems like they have gotten good manners as they don’t bite, unlike other tortoises that do bite.
  2. These good-natured tortoises, unfortunately, cannot survive more than 15 days without eating.
  3. It is estimated that each year, 3000 tortoises of this species are recovered from illegal trade.
  4. This tortoises as a pet, sometimes, live even longer than their owners.
  5. When these tortoises are exposed to fungal infection, their shells have patchy dry spots. 
  6. An adult and healthy tortoise has clear eyes and its shells are very smooth.
  7. In India, it is considered illegal to trade it internationally and commercially.

Indian star tortoise lifespan

There is little known about how long exactly they live, but there are certain figures that are demonstrated related to their lifespan in captivity and in the wild. Thus, it is believed that it can live longer than 35 years and up to 80 years in the wild, and it drops down to a maximum of 25 years when kept in captivity.

Population threat

Threats have always been stalking the animals in the wild. Just like other tortoises, it is also facing population threats. Humans are the major reason behind this along with predators. It has been locally consumed in a large number and also illegally traded as a pet. Currently, its status is threatened with extinction


Its major predators are jackals, foxes, mongoose, hawks, vultures, snakes, lizards, etc. Its eggs and hatchlings are most vulnerable to them. However, Red-tortoise adaptations help them to remain safe. They adopt certain adaptations such as staying under its cover most of the time. 

Indian star tortoise habitat

Varieties of habitat are native to them such as semi-arid lowland forests, moist deciduous forest, grasslands, thorn scrub forests, and semi-desert. They are adaptable to dry and wet habitats. Most of its population is found to live in the areas going through rainy seasons.

Indian star tortoise behavior

In the wild, they spend most of their active hours in early daylight and late afternoon. While the other next hours of the day is spent under bushy covers or vegetations. During winter, their active hours are decreased, while in rainy seasons they are relatively more active.

Indian star tortoise mating

During the rainy season of June to November, the Indian star tortoise breeding period begins. Males confront each other and fight for their rights of mating. They even flip each other and try to get over each other’s scutes. During the mating session, males emit a weird kind of sound. After one month or half, females burrow in the ground to lay eggs.

Indian star tortoise 3

Incubation period

The color of eggs is pink when they are first laid, but after a week or two, turns to “opaque white.” They have an elliptical shape and weight between 12 and 21 g and length is about 1.4 to 2.1 inches. Sex can be guessed by the temperature at which eggs are incubated. Between 28 and 20 degree Celsius, more males are likely to produce, while more females are produced at the temperature of 31 to 32 degrees Celsius. The incubation period lasts 90 to 170 days. 

Indian star tortoise baby

Per mating, 1 to 10 babies are likely to be born. Hatchlings are born without their identification rings whereas carapace is usually made of black-brown color with yellow-orange spots. For the first few months of their life, the growth rate is relatively fast. Females mature at the age of 8 to 12 years and males mature even earlier. 

Indian star tortoise as a pet

  • As these tortoises have a very long lifespan, it’s important that you are fully committed to it before buying it as it can even live longer than you. Mostly people ask Are Indian star tortoises good pets? Yes! They are good pets when handled well, and their beautiful shells amplify their demand as pets.

Indian star tortoise pet behavior

Unlike other tortoises they don’t bite, thus you can keep them in the form of groups of male tortoises or females or both. They are calm and easy-to-handle pets. You don’t need to handle them much, but you need to spend at least 45 minutes of the day taking care of them.

Why are Indian star tortoises expensive?

Keep your pockets full of money if you are thinking of buying this tortoise as Indian star tortoise price range from $500 to $2000. Sexually mature females can be even more expensive and babies are relatively cheap. These tortoises are almost extinct, that’s why they are expensive. Along with this, their beautiful carapace surface which has star-like shells might be the reason for its high demand in the market and on the handless supply, thus leading to high price. 

Indian star tortoise care

Care is very important for their proper growth. Thus take care of them by providing them food at the same time daily. Quantity of food should be the size of their carapace and could be eatable in 15 to 30 minutes. Spray the water daily to make it’s bacteria-free and replenish the water container with fresh water. 

Indian star tortoise housing

Whenever you own a pet, it’s your responsibility to make sure that the comfort zone is provided to them. The enclosure should be made of chemical-free soil, coconut fiber, hay, or grass sometimes. Using a humidity gauge, check out the temperature. Have them a moist box with an 80% humidity level. There should be UVB lighting to process vitamin D3, which is highly required by them.

Indian star tortoise 5

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