- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordate
- Class: Sauropsida
- Order: Testudines
- Suborder: Cryptodira
- Superfamily: Testudinoidea
- Family: Testudinidae
- Genus: Stigmochelys Gray
- Species: S. pardalis
- Binomial name: Stigmochelys pardalis
The Leopard tortoise (Stigmochelys Pardalis) has attractive markings and is big in size; One can see them only in South Africa, the eastern region of the Savannas and extending from the country of Sudan to the South Cape. In the early days, they had labeled this species as the leopard tortoise Geochelone but now, it is the solitary genus of the tortoise Stigmochelys.
Among the variety of large tortoises on earth, the Leopard tortoise stands fourth on the list; the adults typically weigh 40 pounds (18 kg) and attain a length of 18 inches (460mm), and the larger ones may reach 70cm (28 inches) in length and weigh about 120 pounds (54 kg). The shell of an adult can reach a size of almost a 24 inches (610mm) diameter. In special cases, the giant Ethiopian variety displays 100 cm (39 inches). The overall color of the skin is yellowish to cream; its upper shell has patterns of lines or horizontal strokes, with spots or black blotches. Every tortoise has unique markings.
Apart from a few Leopard tortoises noticed in rainy regions, the Chelonian tortoise prefers partially drier areas of grassland to thorny bushes, as they are grazing varieties. During the extreme cold and hot weather, they dwell in the burrows deserted by the anteater, fox or jackal. The Leopard tortoises typically live for 80 to 100 years.
These Leopard tortoises are obedient, easy to control and amicable. While in custody keep the grownups in moderate climates, in the open.
As a Pet
Ensure that the enclosure is large enough for it to move about comfortably. An enclosure of 20 gallons will suffice for a young one of 6”length. For those that are above 6” up to 10”, a terrarium of4’ x 2’ is essential. On attaining a length of 10” leave it in the open with food and water.
Temperature and Lighting
The temperature during the day should range from 78 to 90° F, whereas at night sustain it between 70to75°F. To provide heat throughout the day, place heat padding below the tank. Utilize full range spectrum lighting for 12-14 hours. Make available a cool region along with an area to bask. For this purpose, make available a spick and span area with enough space in the cage
Humidity and Water
This variety needs humidity from low to high intensity. For drinking and soaking, offer a shallow basin, preferably set in the ground.
Mainly they are herbivore; hence, you would do well to feed them with green leaves such as leaves of collard, mustard, hibiscus, dandelion, green and red lettuce, romaine lettuce, flowers, green onions, spinach, green beans, Timothy hay, mixed frozen vegetables, zucchini and alfalfa. While a baby, supplement the vegetables daily with calcium and vitamin. When they reach adulthood, decrease it to once or twice weekly.
The Leopard tortoises attain sexual maturity between the ages of 12 to 15 and they live for a long time. While in captivity the Leopard tortoises grow quicker and attain maturity while as young as 6 years old. The male Leopard tortoises will collide into the female while ‘courting’. The male grunts while mating. The female lays a clutch of 5 to 18 eggs, after mating. Use an incubator to hatch the eggs. During a favorable climate, you can see many eggs when you breed them on the ground, outdoors.
Handling the tortoises as a pet by children is not advisable, since they need irregular handling. Leopard tortoises withdraw their limbs and head due to timidity. As time passes, they tend to recognize their custodians and approach them for their feed.