The Leopard tortoise is a large and gorgeously marked species of tortoise.
Slow and quiet creature, Leopard tortoises are nevertheless a signature animal of the African savannah.
1. Leopard Tortoise are part of the Small 5
You've heard of the Big 5, but what about the little guys? The Small or Little 5 refers to small animals that can be seen during safaris and have similar names to the Big 5.
Leopard tortoise, Rhino beetle, Buffalo weaver, Elephant shrew and Antlion make up the ‘little 5’.
2. Leopard tortoises can swim!
They are the only tortoise that do not have a nuchal shield (the protective scute above the neck). This means the leopard tortoise is the only member of the family that can raise its head, and thus is the only member that can swim.
They are also able to go underwater for up to 10 minutes.
3. Temperature determines the future sex of a Leopard Tortoise
The sex of a tortoise hatchling is determined by the temperature at which the egg is incubated.
Eggs incubated between a temperature range of 26-31°C will be male, and 31-34°C will be female.
4. Leopard tortoises can climb!
Their toenail provides a very secure grip to easily manoeuvre over rocky terrain.
5. You can determine the age of a Leopard Tortoise by counting their scutes
The individual panels of the shell are called “scutes”. These scutes grow in conjunction with growing seasons and thus one can gauge the age of a leopard tortoise by counting the ridges, just like the rings on a tree.
However, the interior ridges are often worn away and estimating an exact age is almost impossible.