Egyptian Tortoise

Egyptian Tortoise/Kleinmann’s Tortoise Testudo kleinmanni

Type of Animal:

Desert, coastal desert/semidesert, sandy/stony desert/semidesert, desert/semidesert w/ compact gravel plains, sand plains, scattered rocks & shallow wadis, coastal saltmarsh areas in desert/semidesert, brushy thornscrub, xeric shrubland, dry woodland, desert/semidesert scrub, saltmarsh margins, sandy gravel plains, rocky wadi escarpments, dry sparsely vegetated sandy soil, shrubby areas in desert/semidesert, scrubland

Formerly found in coastal Libya, coastal Egypt, Sinai Peninsula, & S Israel. Now fragmented in those areas.

High domed ivory to pale gold to dark brown to pinkish to dull yellow plastron (bottom shell), light yellow carapace (upper shell), often having 2 dark triangles on each abdominal scute, pale ivory-yellow to yellowish-brown head/limbs, males have longer tails, females larger than males

Grasses, fruit, vegetables, greens, weeds, leaves, flowers, cacti, broadleaf plants/blooms, vegetation, saltwort, sea lavender, Astragalus plants, blossoms, stems, insects, carrion

Status in Wild:
Critically Endangered

Breeding in zoos, wildlife centers, breeders, & herpetoculture. Possible reintroductions into wild.

Solitary or harems of a male w/ 1-4 females. All-female groups also occur.

Additional Info:

Young: Hatchling
Group: Bale

Male: 3.7 oz
Female: 14.1 oz
Young: 0.5 oz

3.6 months 

Life Span:
26-30 years

Body Length:
Male: 4 in
Female: 5 in
Young: 2 in

Tail Length:
Male: Longer/Thicker
Female: Shorter

Main predators of adults are corvids, raptors, desert monitors, canids, & hyenas. Rats eat young.
Critically endangered due to pet/wildlife trade, habitat destruction/loss, habitat fragmentation, agricultural expansion, cultivation, overgrazing, development, collection of plant material for fuel/building materials/herbal remedies, vehicle collisions, telephone poles providing nesting spots for avian predators, hunting for use in folk medicine, military exercises, & unrest.
Smallest Testudo tortoise species & one of the smallest tortoise species in world.
Sexually mature at 5 years old.
Females lay 1-5 eggs per clutch & can lay up to 4 times a year.
Also called Leith’s Tortoise.
In cooler months, most active midday. In hotter months, most active in morning/evening.
Courtship involves male ramming female.

Fun Fact(s):
Customs officers have found smuggled animals stuffed inside toilet paper rolls, hidden in suitcases, & disguised as potato sacks. In March 2019, a German national traveling back from Cairo attempted to convince Berlin airport security that 3 smuggled animals were highly realistic-looking chocolates & were in a pastry box.
Due to living in dry climate, they get water from sucking moisture from plants.
Retain as much water as possible by excreting concentrated uric acid.
During breeding season, they make calls similar to doves/pigeons (especially males).

50 thoughts on “Egyptian Tortoise

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