Range & Habitat
Found in the savannas and woodlands, from Ethiopia to South Africa.
Reproduction & Growth
Leopard tortoises nest in September and October in South Africa. They have a longer nesting season in tropical Africa. After urinating to soften the soil, the female digs a pit using her hind legs for the nest cavity. She lays 5-30 eggs in the pit and refills it. Using her shell, she taps on the soil by lifting and dropping it, essentially packing the soil down. There may be numerous clutches in one season. Hatchlings wait several weeks for rain to soften the ground before burrowing to the surface. They use their egg tooth to break the shell. Young are easy prey for monitor lizards, storks, crows and small mammals.
In the Wild: Grasses, fallen fruits, fungi, succulent leaves. They have been known to chew on bones for calcium as well. In the Zoo: Hay, alfalfa and small salads.
The leopard tortoise may bury itself to hibernate in cool parts of its range, and to estivate in the hotter parts of its habitat. They can grow to 24 inches long. These animals get the name "leopard" because of the spotted black and yellow dorsal plates on their carapace. Adults are not as brightly marked as juveniles. When competing for females, males butt at each other until one is overturned.