Saturday, November 14, 2015
My Cousin: The Speckled Cape Tortoise
Naturally restricted to a small area in Little Namaqualand, an arid region in the west of South Africa, here it normally lives on rocky outcrops, where it forages among the rocks for the tiny succulent plants it eats.
Males measure 2.5 to 3 inches, while the larger females measure up to almost 4 inches; they weigh about 3.5 – 6 oz. This species has a flattened shell with slightly serrated edges. The orange-brown shell is covered in hundreds of black spots. The males have a noticeably concave belly.
The species is threatened by traffic on roads, habitat destruction and poaching for the pet trade. Many are taken from their natural habitat each year, and nearly all subsequently die as a result, as they do not readily adapt to typical captive diets and climatic change.
However, their diet (while very varied) is not highly specialized, which would allow the species to adapt well to captivity, provided that proper attention is paid to temperature, dryness and a sufficiently varied diet.
Posted by Henry H. Turtle