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Leopard Tortoise, Okavango Delta, Botswana

Leopard Tortoise, Okavango Delta, Botswana (Animals)

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Tags: turtle (18 pics), leopard (31 pics)

The Leopard tortoise (Geochelone pardalis) is a large and attractively marked tortoise found throughout the savannas of Africa, from Sudan to the southern Cape. This chelonian is a grazing species of tortoise that favors semi-arid, thorny to grassland habitats, although some leopard tortoises have been found in rainier areas. In both very hot and very cold weather they may dwell in abandoned fox, jackal, or anteater holes. Leopard tortoises do not dig other than to make nests in which to lay eggs. Not surprisingly, given its propensity for grassland habitats, it grazes extensively upon mixed grasses. It also favors the fruit and pads of the prickly pear cactus (Opuntia sp.), succulents and thistles. They generally have a life span of 100 years.

The leopard tortoise is the fourth largest species of tortoise in the world, with typical adults reaching 18-inch (460 mm) and weighing 40-pound (18 kg). Large examples may be 70-centimetre (28 in) long and weigh up to 120-pound (54 kg). An adult's maximum shell length can reach a 24-inch (610 mm) diameter. The giant Ethiopian form might reach 100-centimetre (39 in) in rare cases. Also, in much rarer cases in countries such as Sudan and their high humidity rainforests this type of tortoise can reach up to lengths of 45inches.

It is a large and attractively marked tortoise. The carapace is high and domed, and pyramid shaped scutes are not uncommon. The skin and background color is cream to yellow, and the carapace is marked with black blotches, spots or even dashes or stripes. Each individual is marked uniquely.


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