Top 10 Leopard Tortoise Facts, Size, Diet, lifespan

Leopard Tortoise

We have been talking and listening to exciting stories about lions and its cousins such as leopards since we were kids, about how every animal in the jungle is afraid of it and its companions. Surprisingly! You would be astonished to know a tortoise also exists with this name “Leopard”. Yes! Leopard tortoises have been in existence since the evolution of tortoises.

The fact behind its name

The word leopard is derived from the Latin word “Leopardus” and Ancient Greek “Leopards”, which means lion. It was first given to one of the wild cats having a physical appearance similar to cheetah and lions. This tortoise has also given this name because of the shells on its carapace surface which have a resemblance with leopard cats. 

Leopard Tortoise 1

Leopard tortoise classification

Let’s have a look at its classification: 

Scientific NameStigmochelys pardalis
Order Testudines
SpeciesS. pardalis
Diet Herbivores
Lifespan 80 to 100 years
Weight18 kg
Incubation period 88 to 160 days.  
Trophic levelHerbivores
Length 6 to 8 inches

Leopard tortoise physical appearance

Its carapace surface is dome-shaped, and opposite sides meet each other, creating a curve. In hatchlings and young adults, shells have a beautiful marking of black spots or dashes on a yellow framework. However, with age, these markings lose their original tone and fade into an uninteresting brown or grey shade.

Leopard tortoise size

This tortoise stands out at the fourth position among the top largest species of tortoises throughout the world, but, How big do Leopard tortoises get? A grown-up tortoise of this species can accomplish a maximum length of 40 cm. Its size also depends on its range. Tortoises from Northern and Southern boundaries are mostly bigger, and can even cross 70cm of its length.

Leopard tortoise weight

Male tortoises are somehow larger than females, but in general, an adult species can weigh about 13 to 18 kg. In contrast, the adult raising in northern and southern ends can weigh up to 20 kilograms, and in ultimate cases, it can even turn to 80 pounds, i.e. 36 kg.

Leopard tortoise diet

Being a herbivore, it eats on grasses, but its preferable diet is to graze on flowers, fungi, succulents, and other varieties of fruits. Sometimes, probably, to enhance their levels of calcium, it consumes ash and old bones.  Also, their diet doesn’t follow any specific time; they eat the whole day. 50 to 80 percent of its diet must consist of fiber-enriched greens and grasses.

Leopard tortoise diet list

They eat greens and grasses but wait! every green item is not suitable for them, and some of the greens can even harm them. When in the wild, with the smell of their nose, they recognize what food to eat but if you have it as a pet, then it’s important to follow a certain diet plan of what to give and what not to.

Leopard Tortoise 2

What to feed your Leopard’s tortoise?

Feed them greens enriched in calcium such as collard greens, grape leaves, hibiscus leaves, escarole, mulberry tree leaves, carrots, zucchini, bell peppers, sweet potato, yellow squash, pumpkin, mushrooms, and butternut squash. Don’t forget to provide them with water. Vitamins and vitamin d3 supplements can also be used but are not necessary unless you do not expose them to UVB light.

What not to feed your leopard’s tortoise?

Never, ever give your pet a food treated with pesticides or some other chemicals that could be dangerous to their health. The fruit you provide them should make only 5% of the total diet. Do not give the size of the food more than their shell size. Do not provide them with greens such as spinach, beet greens, and Swiss chard as they are rich in oxalates and can lead to dehydration.

Leopard tortoise lifespan

We cannot say precisely How long these tortoises live, but according to research, they can live up to 100 years. However, their population is decreasing day by day due to some factors. Let’s have a look at them

Population threat

Human imposed activities, such as land burning. Consumption and deforestation and most importantly! Commercial exploitation in the pet trade is one of the most severe population threats. They are also illegally imported, and their body parts are also sold for God-knows-what-purposes.  


Their main predators are wild cats and dogs. Whenever they discover being stalked by someone, they hide into their shells, making it difficult for a predator to trace it. 

Leopard tortoise habitat

Across the arid regions of Eastern and Southern Africa, they are broadly dispersed, spreading from South Sudan and Somalia, beyond East Africa to South Africa and Namibia. However, it cannot be found inside the forests of Central Africa. They are from the family “Testudinidae” which means land tortoises, thus making them the most occurring species of tortoises in Africa. Semi-arid weather of savannah is their main habitat.

Leopard tortoise mating

While matting, they adopt monogamous behavior which means they mate with only one partner throughout the season. Aggression can easily be spotted when they want to mate. Their mating season starts from May and ends in October.

Incubation period

After successful mating, the mother tortoise before laying eggs digs a nest inside the soil about 300 mm to lay eggs. After the digging process is completed, it is ready to lay eggs and thus lay them. The incubation period lasts 88 to 160 days but is highly dependent on temperature and location.

Leopard tortoise baby

After the incubation period is completed, baby tortoises come out of their eggshells breaking them with their head. 5 to 7 hatchlings may be produced in one season. Until it is young enough to come out,  it lives inside the shell. However, most of them become independent immediately the time after birth. When they become 5 years old they are matured.

Leopard Tortoise 3

Leopard tortoise baby care

Baby tortoises should be fed daily. If it is kept indoors, provide them with the natural sunlight and grazing opportunities by visiting them outdoors. Make sure to clean the enclosure each day. Check if any unusual behavior is observed, a serious health problem could be a reason. 

Leopard tortoise as a pet

Along with its name, its fascinating look and its size are one of the major reasons behind its demand as a pet. However, before buying it make sure to fully commit to it.

Leopard tortoise pet behavior

The most common question that comes to mind whenever it comes to having it as a pet is, Is a leopard tortoise a good pet? And their behavior determines that. They are usually slow quiet and good-natured animals but somehow don’t make interesting pets. Most tortoises confuse fingers with food, but these tortoises are not disclosed to bite humans. However, they do not like to be handled much but as it is said it always takes time to develop a bond with pets.

Leopard tortoise price

Their prices vary with countries, in the USA, it will cost you from $215 to $2899 but in the UK it will cost you about £90 to £250. The price depends on age, baby tortoises are cheaper than adult ones. Honestly! For the person curious about having them as pets, price does not matter. 

Leopard tortoise enclosure

Their enclosure can be of different varieties and it will do well on dry substrates. It’s important to give them dry and humid areas inside their enclosure. When in the wild, when winter season comes and the temperature falls down, they instantly dig burrows and spend most of their time in them.

Leopard tortoise humidity

Humidity for this tortoise should maintain at a level of 80%. But, the question Is how can you maintain the humidity level for your pet? There are several ways to do it. Most common is to use a closed chamber most importantly while having baby tortoises. Maintaining humidity is essential as its absence can lead to dehydration.

Leopard Tortoise 6

Leopard tortoise facts

  1. These tortoises have very good eyesight and a beautiful carapace which amplifies its beauty.
  2. Some of its subspecies such as Madagascar radiated and Galapagos are declared endangered.
  3. It is the only tortoise of its family that can swim.
  4. It is recognized as one of the 4th largest tortoises throughout the world.
  5. One fun fact is that it can stay underwater for about 10 minutes.
  6. It is Less threatened by predators.
  7. It is the only species in its family that can raise its head due to the absence of nuchal shields.

You May Also Like

About the Author: Zoological world

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: