Leopard tortoise Facts

Leopard tortoise Facts
Leopard tortoise is type of land-dwelling reptile and the fourth largest species of tortoise in the world. It is native to the southern and eastern parts of Africa. Leopard tortoise can be found in the coastal plains and semi-arid grasslands and scrublands, from the sea level to the altitude of 10.000 feet. Together with rhino beetle, red-billed buffalo weaver, elephant shrew and ant lion, leopard tortoise is a member of the "Little 5" group (top 5 most popular small animals of Africa). Leopard tortoise is hunted as a source of food and collected from the wild due to pet trade. It is declared as vulnerable in some parts of its range.
Interesting Leopard tortoise Facts:
Leopard tortoise can reach 16 to 28 inches in length and 40 to 120 pounds of weight.
Leopard tortoise had yellow, yellowish-brown or reddish carapace (upper part of the shell) with black blotches and spots that resemble the spotted pattern of leopard's fur (hence the name). Dark markings are more pronounced in younger animals.
Leopard tortoise has sharp, beak-like mouth and elevated carapace with pyramid-shaped scutes (plates on the carapace). Bottom side of the shell (plastron) is flat in females and slightly concave in males, which also have longer tails.
Leopard tortoise can easily move across the rocky terrain thanks to its paddle-shaped front legs and trunk-like hind legs.
Leopard tortoise is a herbivore. Its diet is based on the grass, mushroom, fruit, succulent plants and prickly pear cactus.
Leopard tortoise occasionally consumes old bones to obtain calcium that keeps shell in good condition and ensures high quality of the eggshell during the nesting season.
Natural enemies of leopard tortoises are wild cats, dogs and humans.
As a defense strategy, leopard tortoise releases urine and stored water when picked from the ground. This may deter predator, but it may also result in death out of dehydration, especially if it happens during the winter.
Leopard tortoise is solitary animal. It hides inside the abandoned burrows of jackals, anteaters and foxes during the extremely cold and hot weather.
Mating season of leopard tortoise takes place during the spring (or during September/October in South Africa).
Males bite and push each other with an ultimate goal to flip the opponent on the back and get opportunity to mate.
Female lays 5 to 18 eggs in the hole in the ground. They hatch after 8 to 18 months. Leopard tortoise doesn't show parental care.
Gender of babies depended on the temperature in the nest. Lower temperature (26 to 31 degrees of Celsius) results in development of males, and higher temperature (31 to 34 degrees) in development of females.
Leopard tortoises reach sexual maturity at the age of 12 to 15 years.
Leopard tortoise can survive 80 to 100 years in the wild.

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