Madagascan Flat-tailed Tortoise

Madagascan Flat-tailed Tortoise


Lowland fragments of dry, deciduous forest. Exclusive to west coast of Madagascar


These tortoises have a noticeably flattened oblong upper shell (carapace) and flattened tail. The carapace is distinctively patterned, with each scute (section of carapace) having a light brown to yellow center surrounded by a wide, dark brown to black border. In older tortoises, an additional yellow border may surround this dark border. Their heads range in color from dark brown to black and features yellow marks of various shapes. The legs range in color from yellow to brown, and each leg has five toes. Large yellow scales cover its hind legs.


The flat-tailed tortoise is active only during the warm/raining season (December–March), with most activity concentrated during and after rain. During the cooler dry season they enter a stage similar to hibernation known as aestivation, the species buries itself and lies dormant.


Mating occurs in the first half of the rainy season and females produce 1-3 single egg clutches in the latter half of the rainy season. Observation of nests in the wild, show incubation periods of 250-340 days. Females do not reach maturity until ten years of age.

Interesting Facts:

These tortoises are also known as flat-backed spider tortoises.

Madagascan Flat-tailed Tortoise

This is one of the most critically endangered of all the tortoise species.They face threats due to five identified factors, all of which threaten many of Madagascar's unique species. First, the species’ habitat is damaged by burning and clearing for agricultural lands, cattle grazing, highway development, mining, and petroleum exploration. Second, the species faces severe threats from human utilization, specifically harvesting for the international pet trade. Third, predation from the introduction of new species in its habitat threatens the flat-tailed tortoise, and fatal diseases such as intestinal and blood parasites have been observed in captive and wild populations. Fourth, existing regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to manage the threats to the flat-tailed tortoise. Finally, other natural and manmade factors threaten the tortoise’s continued existence, including: low reproductive rate, small population size, and rapid human population growth in its range.

Did YOU Know?    
This tortoise often lives around tombs, so the Malagasy people call it “kapidolo” - the ghost turtle.
Madagascan Flat-tailed Tortoise
Class: reptiles
Order: Testudinidae
Family: Pyxis
Genus: Pyxis
Species: planicauda
Length: Carapace up to 13.5 cm
Weight: The males weigh 300 to 400 grams and the females 475 to 670 grams
Wild Diet: Fuits and foliage from trees and shrubs
CITES Status: listed
Where at the Zoo? Small Animal Building

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