Madagascar Spider Tortoise

Madagascar Spider Tortoise Pyxis arachnoides

Type of Animal:

Spiny forest, dry/semidry forest, sandy spiny vegetation areas, dry woodland, sand dunes, brushland

SW & S Madagascar

All 3 subspecies have small heads, oblong highly curved carapaces (upper shells) widening towards rear, males have longer tails than females, & spiderweb like pattern on carapace, Common Spider Tortoise (largest subspecies)-cream shell w/ outward extending black pattern, older individuals have less patterning-often being uniform cream/tan color, dark brown/black on top of head, yellow facial area/chin/neck, tan/yellow plastron (bottom shell), Northern subspecies smallest similar to common but plastron lacks hinge, Southern subspecies has black markings on plastron, juveniles darker than adults

Grasses, leaves, greens, cactus pads, succulents, roots, vegetables, mushrooms, berries, fruit, insects, insect larvae, cow dung, carrion

Status in Wild:
Critically Endangered

Breeding in zoos & breeding centers


Additional Info:

Young: Hatchling
Group: Solitary

Male: 7 oz
Female: 14 oz
8 months 

Life Span:
70 years

Body Length:
Male: 4.5 in
Female: 5 in
Young: 2 in

Tail Length:
Male: Longer/Thicker
Female: Shorter

Main predators are Malagasy carnivores, raptors, snakes, dogs, cats, & pigs.
Critically endangered due to pet trade, habitat loss, charcoal demand, deforestation, agriculture, poaching for meat/body parts/eggs, fires, slow reproductive rate, & invasive plants.
Sexually mature at 6 years old.
Females only lay 1 egg per clutch & lay up to 3 times a year.
Smallest tortoise in Madagascar.
Often estivate/brumate in much of longer dry season (especially on cooler nights & when really hot).
Most active in shorter wet season.
Most active at dawn & dusk (crepuscular).
Get name from web-like pattern on shell.
There are less than 5,000 of these tortoises remaining in the wild.

Fun Fact(s):
Heavily trafficked, w/ 1 trader in 2001 placing single order for 10,000 tortoises.
Young often remain in diapause (stasis w/o development) in egg until favorable conditions reached.
Sometimes seen in burrows w/ much larger Radiated Tortoises. Usually only 1 spider tortoise per burrow but radiateds often share burrows.
Madagascar Spider Tortoise, stock photo

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