Favours semi-arid, thorny and grassland habitats.
They graze on mixed grasses, thistles, and also likes the fruit of the prickly pear cactus. The leopard tortoise will gnaw on bones in order to get vital calcium into its own body.
The leopard tortoise will travel long distances in search of food and they have a well developed sense of smell and taste. Their name comes from the camoflage pattern on their shell.
The female tortoise will dig a 12 inch hole with her hind feet and drops clutches of up to 30 white eggs at three week intervals over 20 weeks. The eggs have tough shells that are resistant to damage and rapid dehydration. One year later these eggs will hatch. The hatchlings may have to wait for several weeks in their burrow for rain to soften the ground enough for them to dig their way out.
These tortoises are a staple food for many local people in their native habitat. In areas of significant human populations, the number of leopard tortoises have declined. They are kept as pets, but are increasingly bred in captivity, which reduces the amount of wild animals being captured.
- Latin Name: Geochelone pardalis
- Class: Reptiles
- Order: Testudines
- Family: Testudinidae
- Conservation Status: Least Concern
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