Radiated Tortoise

Radiated Tortoise Astrochelys radiata

Type of Animal:

Dry brush, dry thorn forest, dry woodland/forest, xeric shrubland, desert, scrubland, tall dry grassland, coastal dunes, plateaus

Native to S Madagascar. Introduced to Mauritius & Reunion.

High-domed carapace (upper shell) marked w/ yellow lines radiating from center of each dark shell plate, star pattern, elephantine feet, blunt head, yellow legs/feet/head, black patch on top of head, males have longer tails/more protruding scutes/larger than females, some shells have more pyramiding

Grasses, fruit, succulents, cacti, shrubs, mushrooms, herbs, greens, weeds, flowers, flower blossoms, leaves, vines, fruiting trees, berries, melons, gourds, vegetables, legumes, occasionally small animals

Status in Wild:

Breeding in zoos & breeding centers. Reintroduction programs.

Herds of 3-40 tortoises. Some individuals found alone.

Additional Info:

Young: Hatchling
Group: Herd
Male: 35 lbs
Female: 26 lbs
5-8 months 

Life Span:
50 years in wild, 100-120 years in captivity

Male: 1.31 ft
Female: 0.98 ft

Body Length:
Male: 1.31 ft
Female: 0.98 ft
Young: 5 in

Tail Length:
Male: Longer/thicker
Female: Shorter

Main predators of adults are fossa. Giant hognose snakes & large hawks prey on young.
Endangered due to habitat loss, poaching for wildlife trade/pet trade/food/liver/medicine trade/eggs, & charcoal production.
Sexually mature at 15 years old.
Locally known as Sokake.

Fun Fact(s):
One of oldest reptiles ever female named Tu’I Malila, estimated to have hatched in 1777 & died on May 16, 1996. 1 source claims Captain James Cook/1 of his crew members gave her as gift to Tongan royal family in July 1777. Other source claims Tongan king George Tupou I got her from vessel called in Ha’apai in early 1800s. Either way, she was taken to Mu’a in E part of main Tongan island & kept in compound called Malila, where she got name. In 1921, she was moved from Malila to Royal Palace by queen Salote Tupou III, where she lived until death.
Due to high value in wildlife trade, animals often confiscated in huge numbers. 1 confiscation on April 20, 2018 in Toliara, Madagascar, found more than 9,888 live tortoises & 180 dead ones. Survivors taken to rehab center Le Village Des Tortues 18 mi N in Ifaty. 574 more died since arriving due to trauma/infection/dehydration. Later that year in same area on October 24, another bust confiscated 7,347 tortoises. As of October 31, 2018, more than 200 died for same reasons. Some tortoises went to Le Village Des Tortues & others went to Lavavolo Tortoise Center near Itampolo, where around 8,600 from April bust reside.
Mahafaly & Antandroy people have taboo (fady) against eating/touching tortoises but other people in same region have no such qualms. Often kept as pets as well as kept w/ poultry as way of warding off poultry diseases.
Radiated Tortoises, Brookfield Zoo, taken by me

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