The leopard tortoise (Stigmochelys pardalis), sometimes referred to as the African leopard tortoise, is a tortoise species native to the African savannahs. Its geographical range spans from Sudan to the southern Cape. It is found in several African nations, including Sudan, Namibia, Ethiopia, Angola, Botswana, and Zambia. The fact that it is amongst the largest tortoise species in the world doesn't hold people back from keeping it as a pet. On an average, this tortoise can live for approximately 50 years in captivity.
Behavior and Habitat
Though the average length of this species 18 inches and average weight about 18 lbs, individuals much bigger than this have also been seen. These shy creatures are herbivorous in nature, most often feeding on a mix of dry and green grass. In captivity, they attain sexual maturity much earlier than their counterparts in the wild. They don't dig the ground, unless when it comes to laying eggs. In case of extreme temperatures though, they do take shelter in the holes abandoned by other animals. If you intend to keep them as pets, it is important to provide them a habitat that is as similar to their habitat in the wild as possible.
Leopard Tortoise Care Guide
If you intend to keep this species as a pet, you will have to buy a hatchling carefully. You need to make sure that the hatchling you choose is active and has clean and glossy eyes, as cloudy eyes indicate ill health in these reptiles.
Habitat in Captivity: The habitat for your pet tortoise should be as close to its natural habitat as possible. An outdoor habitat is ideal, especially if you live in a region with warm and dry climate. You can use bark, soft sand, and dry grass as the substrate.
Heat and Light: Supply adequate heat and light for your pet using a 100-watt UVB lamp and 60-watt red heat lamp. The ideal temperature should be between 80ºF - 85ºF. It is better if you monitor the temperature and ensure that it doesn't drop below 70ºF or exceed 100ºF, as both scenarios can turn out to be harmful for your pet.
Diet: Being herbivores, leopard tortoises are mostly known to feed on grass. Occasionally though, you can include some fruits and vegetables in their diet. Their diet should not include too much of wet matter, as this may lead to digestive problems.
The trend of keeping exotic pets is on a rise, but one has to understand that it requires a lot more efforts as compared to a native species. If you follow the advice given here, your pet leopard tortoise will undoubtedly stay healthy and live a long life.