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The leopard tortoise is the fourth largest species of tortoise in the world, with typical adults reaching 18-inch and weighing 40-pound An adult's maximum shell length can reach 24-inches in diameter. The giant Ethiopian form might reach 39-in in rare cases. Also, in much rarer cases in countries such as Sudan with their high humidity rainforests this type of tortoise can reach up to lengths of 45 inches.
|All tucked in!|
It is a large and attractively marked tortoise. The carapace is high and domed, and pyramid shaped scutes are not uncommon. The skin and background color is cream to yellow, and the carapace is marked with black blotches, spots or even dashes or stripes. Each individual is marked uniquely.
Leopard tortoises are herbivorous. They are more defensive than offensive, retracting feet and head into their shell for protection. This often results in a hissing sound, probably due to the squeezing of air from the lungs as the limbs and head are retracted.
This is the most widely distributed tortoise in Southern Africa. Leopard tortoises are increasingly being bred in captivity. This is a positive development, as it should lead to a gradual reduction in demand for animals caught in the wild.
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The Diamondback Terrapin can be found in brackish waters from Cape Cod to Texas along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, including the Floriday Keys.
Named for the diamond patterns on its top shell, with scutes that bear deep, diamond-shaped growth rings. The top shell is light brown, gray, or black; the bottom shell ranges from yellow to olive. Black spots and wiggly marks, in a pattern unique to each turtle, appear on the reptile's whitish skin. The shell size of the male averages 5 inches. The female is larger than the male, with shell size averaging 7.5 inches.
In the summer, they move from marsh creeks onto beaches and dunes to lay their pinkish-white eggs in 6-inch-deep nests in the sand. After 60 - 120 days, the inch-long hatchlings emerge from the nest and enter the nearest water.
While the diamondback terrapin eats snails, clams, crabs, and some marsh plants, the reptile's population was decimated in the 1700s and 1800s because its meat was considered such a delicacy - the chief ingredient in terrapin soup. While protective legislation is now in place, the terrapin's population has a long way to go to rebound from previous overharvesting.