South African Leopard Tortoise

Aligators, caimen, crocodiles, terrapins, tortoises and turtles exotic to South Africa.

South African Leopard Tortoise

Postby yagyujubei » Fri Mar 04, 2011 4:08 pm

In the US, we call these South African Leopard Tortoises (Geochelone pardalis pardalis). Some consider them to be a different species from the Babcocki. Any thoughts from you guys? All the little ones were hatched between 9/10 and 12/10. Just thought I'd share. Any helpful info from the source would be greatly appreciated.
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Re: South African Leopard Tortoise

Postby Ales » Fri Mar 04, 2011 8:04 pm

I had the same theory a while ago...

viewtopic.php?f=70&t=21148&p=163480&hilit=leopard+tortoise+subspecies#p163480

Are the leopard tortoises you have in USA always that white? Ive never seen them like that here.
Also that substrate you keeping them on looks a bit moist,is that normal,doesn't it make them sick?
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Re: South African Leopard Tortoise

Postby yagyujubei » Fri Mar 04, 2011 8:22 pm

The young ones seem to be basically black and white in their new growth, the white turns ivory to tan as they get older. New thinking here is that heightened moisture helps prevent pyramiding shells, which is a huge problem here. So far, it seems to be working, but I have to keep the temps up to prevent cooling. These are fast growers, and have bold personalities. The big female (top pic) is new to me. I don't have a male for her. She's about 10 or 11, 15" and 18 pounds. and the original owner didn't have a male for her, so I he bred her to a sulcata male last year. She laid a clutch of eggs which weren't incubated. Maybe I'll get hybrid eggs this year. I'd rather find a male though. Not too many here.
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Re: South African Leopard Tortoise

Postby Ales » Fri Mar 04, 2011 8:55 pm

yagyujubei wrote:New thinking here is that heightened moisture helps prevent pyramiding shells, which is a huge problem here. So far, it seems to be working, but I have to keep the temps up to prevent cooling.


I have seen pictures of very bad pyramiding before,looks weird to us here,I've only ever seen one tortoise here with pyramiding.
It does seem to work though.
The reason I asked is because here if you keep tortoises on moist substrate like that they very often get sick,they like it dry.

yagyujubei wrote:so I he bred her to a sulcata male last year. She laid a clutch of eggs which weren't incubated. Maybe I'll get hybrid eggs this year.


Why would he want to do that? I hate hybrids, especially tortoises.What do the babies look like :-? ?
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Re: South African Leopard Tortoise

Postby Smeegle » Fri Mar 04, 2011 9:16 pm

I kept two of these for at least a decade in my youth until my mom consulted Rod Patterson who suggested we donate them to the Everard Read estate, which we did.

Anyway, my point is that I think the animal in the first picture looks very sickly. I agree that the substrate is wrong, as well as possibly the diet and the lack of sunshine. They thrive in the dry Highveld where I used to live.

You can't just keep them in a moist cage and feed them on greens. Please, prove me wrong here...
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Re: South African Leopard Tortoise

Postby Smeegle » Fri Mar 04, 2011 9:17 pm

And the Sulcutta thing makes me cringe...
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Re: South African Leopard Tortoise

Postby yagyujubei » Fri Mar 04, 2011 9:56 pm

Ales wrote:
yagyujubei wrote:New thinking here is that heightened moisture helps prevent pyramiding shells, which is a huge problem here. So far, it seems to be working, but I have to keep the temps up to prevent cooling.


Why would he want to do that? I hate hybrids, especially tortoises. What do the babies look like :-? ?

I don't think it was intentional. I think he just housed them together, and nature took it's course. He took various reptiles around to schools and little local reptile shows. I have seen some hybrids (hatchlings) and they looked like sulcatas with spots on the scutes. I Haven't heard of any adults though. All the one I heard of were male leopard x female sulcata. Maybe they're all mules.
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Re: South African Leopard Tortoise

Postby yagyujubei » Fri Mar 04, 2011 10:07 pm

Smeegle wrote:I kept two of these for at least a decade in my youth until my mom consulted Rod Patterson who suggested we donate them to the Everard Read estate, which we did.

Anyway, my point is that I think the animal in the first picture looks very sickly. I agree that the substrate is wrong, as well as possibly the diet and the lack of sunshine. They thrive in the dry Highveld where I used to live.

You can't just keep them in a moist cage and feed them on greens. Please, prove me wrong here...

I'm not sure what you're seeing that I'm not. She is new to me, but is a good eater. The oldest little ones are about 7 - 8 months old now, and are about 160g and 3/14" long,the youngest born late December and around 35g and all seem to be thriving. I live in a cold northern climate and it's raising animals such as these presents different problems than they face in their home climate.
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Re: South African Leopard Tortoise

Postby Bushviper » Sun Mar 06, 2011 7:07 am

I dont believe the moist substrate has anything to do with pyramiding. My biggest tortoises are over 50 years old and show no signs of pyramiding and they are not kept moist at all. I have also heard of the SA pardalis being called "blonds" in the US. I think this is because they are known to hibernate where the babcocki do not hibernate well. In actual fact the colours do not indicate anything as pardalis have almost the same colours.

Keeping them in a northern climate would be difficult but sunlight would be the best solution. In winter I know this will not be possible. Whatever you do do not give them damp surroundings to hibernate in. That will kill them. They do not occur in "tropical rain forests" but prefer dry savannah bushy regions.

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As you can see these are not kept in damp surroundings and are normal. I suspect the diet will be far more important. I also think your female is too small to breed and please do not let a sulcata anywhere near her.
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Re: South African Leopard Tortoise

Postby yagyujubei » Sun Mar 06, 2011 4:02 pm

Bushviper wrote:I dont believe the moist substrate has anything to do with pyramiding. My biggest tortoises are over 50 years old and show no signs of pyramiding and they are not kept moist at all. I have also heard of the SA pardalis being called "blonds" in the US. I think this is because they are known to hibernate where the babcocki do not hibernate well. In actual fact the colours do not indicate anything as pardalis have almost the same colours.

Keeping them in a northern climate would be difficult but sunlight would be the best solution. In winter I know this will not be possible. Whatever you do do not give them damp surroundings to hibernate in. That will kill them. They do not occur in "tropical rain forests" but prefer dry savannah bushy regions.


As you can see these are not kept in damp surroundings and are normal. I suspect the diet will be far more important. I also think your female is too small to breed and please do not let a sulcata anywhere near her.

Thank you for your imput. As far as the pyramiding goes, the heightened humidity seems to offset the drying effects of the artificial lighting. In the room where I keep my hatchlings, the humidity in the winter is very dry, around 20%. I spray the substrate to increase humidity, but after about 10 minutes, it's dry to the touch. As far as my female goes, how large do your recommend? She is 11 years old, 14" long (36cm) and weighs about 18 pounds.(8064g)About the size of the ones you are pictured with. As far as diet, they all get a prepared tortoise diet as well as grass,dandelions, maple, grape, and mulberry leaves, opuntia cactus, aloe. As much water as they want. Calcium carbonate is available as well. They're outside, and graze all summer. They are kept quite warm all winter. Inside UVA and UVB lighting
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Re: South African Leopard Tortoise

Postby Bushviper » Sun Mar 06, 2011 6:42 pm

Hi

You said
yagyujubei wrote: She's about 10 or 11, 15" and 18 pounds.


and thats why I said she seemed to be too small because I was working in centimetres sorry. The sizes you give are way big enough to breed with.

As long as the cage is not constantly wet like in the photo then I am sure the pyramiding could be resolved. We let ours hibernate when it is cold and in summer the humidity is naturally fairly high, so no need for hot lights etc.
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Re: South African Leopard Tortoise

Postby yagyujubei » Mon Mar 07, 2011 1:15 am

[quote="Bushviper"]I dont believe the moist substrate has anything to do with pyramiding. My biggest tortoises are over 50 years old and show no signs of pyramiding and they are not kept moist at all. I have also heard of the SA pardalis being called "blonds" in the US. I think this is because they are known to hibernate where the babcocki do not hibernate well. In actual fact the colours do not indicate anything as pardalis have almost the same colours.

Keeping them in a northern climate would be difficult but sunlight would be the best solution. In winter I know this will not be possible. Whatever you do do not give them damp surroundings to hibernate in. That will kill them. They do not occur in "tropical rain forests" but prefer dry savannah bushy regions.

Thank you for all this info. I am intrigued about hibernation. It is commonly thought in this country that leopards do not hibernate under any circumstances. Do young leopards ever eat any live food, or are they strictly vegetarians? What about swimming? I hope I'm not sounding like an idiot or beginner, but I'm eager to find as much information from "the source" as I can. Thanks...
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Re: South African Leopard Tortoise

Postby Bushviper » Mon Mar 07, 2011 7:43 am

Leopard tortoises occur in areas where there is snow on the ground in winter. Does that give you an idea how cold it gets? They have to hibernate or else they will freeze to death. They will often find burrows deep underground and spend months there. They also burrow deep into vegetation where they stay and on warm winter days they do come out to bask but return a few hours later.

Leopard tortoise do not eat live food unlike some other local species such as Hinged back tortoises. They do eat animal droppings (especially of carnivores) searching for calcium. Apparently extra animal protein causes pyramiding in leopard tortoises.

Leopard tortoises can swim well and will cross rivers or lakes. They swim rather slowly and falling into water does not stress them as they float with their heads out of the water for hours on end.
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Re: South African Leopard Tortoise

Postby MrG » Mon Mar 07, 2011 12:41 pm

How long does it take for eggs to hatch?
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Re: South African Leopard Tortoise

Postby Ales » Mon Mar 07, 2011 3:29 pm

MrG wrote:How long does it take for eggs to hatch?


About a year.
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