Tortoise, leopard

Stigmochelys pardalis

Leopard tortoise (Stigmochelys pardalis)
The leopard tortoise is so named due to its shell pattern which matches the coat of its feline namesake. It is the most widespread of all tortoises in Africa and also the largest. Those in the Eastern Cape can reach 70 cm in length and weigh as much as 40 kg. However, the norm is 30 to 50 cm in length and between 10 and 15 kg. They feed on a vegetarian diet which includes grass, fruits and succulents.

Conservation status : Least concern
Kingdom : Animalia
Phylum : Chordata
Class : Sauopsida
Order : Testudines
Family : Testudinidae

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The leopard tortoise is the largest tortoise in southern Africa. Those in the Eastern Cape can reach 70 cm in length and weigh as much as 40 kg. However, the norm is 30 to 50 cm in length and between 10 and 15 kg.

Due to the slow growth of the leopard tortoise they don’t reach sexual maturity until they are 12 to 15 years old.

In the wild a leopard tortoise can live for 75 years, in some cases as long as 100.

A male leopard tortoise will court the female by ramming her. However, once mated he will lose interest and be on his way.

Leopard tortoises are loyal to their home range. If they are moved several kilometres they will eventually return.

As well as being the only tortoise able to swim the leopard tortoise can stay submerged for up to 10 minutes.

The female leopard tortoise may lay between 6 and 24 hard shelled eggs. Depending upon environmental conditions, it can take between 4 and 14 months for the eggs to hatch.