Flat-Backed Spider Tortoise/Madagascar Flat-Tailed Tortoise

Flat-Backed Spider Tortoise/Madagascar Flat-Tailed Tortoise Pyxis planicauda

Type of Animal:


C W Madagascar

Flat patterned oblong (usually light brown to yellow w/ some dark brown/black outlining) carapace (upper shell) & tail, older tortoises have more yellow, yellow plastron (lower shell) w/ scattered dark spots/rays, yellow to brown scaly limbs, dark brown to black head (usually w/ yellow markings, 2nd smallest tortoise in Madagascar after Madagascar Spider Tortoise

Fruit, fallen flowers, tree/shrub foliage, vegetation, leafy greens, vegetables, fungi, carrion

Status in Wild:
Critically Endangered

Breeding in zoos & breeding centers


Additional Info:

Young: Hatchling
Group: Solitary
Male: 10.58-14.10 oz
Female: 16.76-23.63 oz
11 months 

Life Span:
50 years

Body Length:
Male: 5.9 in
Female: 5.11 in
Young: 2 in

Tail Length:
Male: Longer/Thicker
Female: Shorter/Thinner

Main predators are dogs, mongooses, Malagasy carnivores, cats, pigs, raptors, & snakes.
Critically endangered due to pet trade, habitat loss, deforestation, slow reproductive rate, invasive predators, agriculture, poaching for meat/body parts/eggs, mining, development, & petroleum/oil exploration, charcoal demand, & intestinal/blood parasites.
Females produce 3 single egg clutches a year.
Also called Flat-Tailed/Flat-Shelled Spider Tortoise/Madagascar Flat-Shelled Tortoise.
Usually breed in rainy/wet season.
Often inactive in longer dry season, taking shelter in leaf litter/burrows, becoming more dormant when weather cooler.
There are less than 5,000 of these tortoises remaining in the wild.
Sexually mature at 6 years old.
Get name from flat shell/back/tail & web-like pattern on shell.
Active at dawn/dusk (crepuscular).
They’re a very shy species.
They camouflage very well in leaf litter.
Due to being more torpid in dry season, much more vulnerable to predation at this time.

Fun Fact(s):
Young often remain in diapause (stasis w/o development) in egg until favorable conditions reached.
Locally known as Kapidolo (ghost turtle) due to often being seen around tombs.

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