Leopard Tortoise

STATUSLeast Concern

COMMON NAME (SCIENTIFIC NAME)Stigmochelys pardalis

DIETGrasses, succulents, thistle, and fruits

RANGECentral and South Africa

HABITATDry savannas

Leopard Tortoise

Physical Description

Leopard Tortoises can grow to be 2 to 2.5 feet long and weigh around 28 lbs, though some have been known to weigh as much as 90 lbs. They get their name from the yellow and black patterns on their shells. These marking are more distinct in younger individuals because they fade as they age.


Because of their size and protective shell, they do not have many predators as adults. Eggs, however, will be preyed on by a wide variety of smaller predators.


On average, they can live anywhere from 75-100 years.


This species can get very aggressive during mating season when competing for mates. Females will dig a nest and lay 5-30 eggs which will incubate for 240-400 days.

Fun Facts

  • The leopard tortoise is the 4th largest species of tortoise in the world and the most widely distributed tortoise in Africa.
  • To avoid dehydration and excessive heat, they will burrow underground during hot or dry seasons and stay dormant until the weather improves and the rains return.

Conservation Messaging

The Leopard Tortoise is native to the arid savannas of Central and Southern Africa. While leopard tortoises are considered a species of least concern according to the IUCN Red List, they have been heavily exploited by the pet trade. Leopard tortoises are increasingly being bred in captivity, but many are still taken from the wild to be sold as pets. All animals, even tortoises, play an important role in their ecosystem and one more exotic pet in captivity is one less animal in the wild. The easiest way to ensure we’re not supporting the illegal pet trade is by just saying no to exotic animals as pets.

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