Search This Blog

Monday, June 20, 2016

Species Fact Profile: Pancake Tortoise (Malacochersus tornieri)

Pancake Tortoise
Malacochersus tornieri (Siebenrock, 1903)

Range: East Africa (Southern Kenya, Northern Tanzania)
Habitat: Rock Kopjes (Isolated Rock Outcrops)
Diet: Vegetables, Fruit, Carrion, Invertebrates
Social Grouping: Sociable (Will share burrows)
Reproduction: Female lays single large egg per nesting, spaced 25 days apart.  May lay as many as 6 eggs per year.  Eggs buried in soil or sand, incubate for 180-240 days.  Sexual maturity based on body size (usually at about 8 years old)
Lifespan: 25 Years
Conservation Status: IUCN Vulnerable, CITES Appendix II

  • Body length up to 18 centimeters, but very flat - no more than 6 centimeters thick at thickest - leading to common name.  Weight about 500 grams.  Males are slightly smaller than females
  • Carapace is brown or beige with varying patterns of radiating, dark lines
  • Soft, flat shell is an adaptation for squeezing into rock crevices to avoid predators; it is so unusual among tortoises that the first scientists to observe these tortoises thought they were suffering from some sort of bone disease.  Flat shell also allows for rapid heat absorption
  • Flat shell also makes body cavity very small, meaning these tortoises can only lay one egg at a time.
  • World's fastest tortoise species, clocked at 18 meters per minute, also skilled climber.  The flat shell allows the tortoise to right itself quickly if it flips over
  • Declining due to habitat destruction and over-collection for the pet-trade; recovery is hampered by their slow reproductive rate

No comments:

Post a Comment