African Pancake Tortoise

Biological classification

Class: Reptilia

Order: Testudines

Family: Testudinidae


The average length of the carapace of African pancake tortoise is from 14 to 18 cm, females are slightly larger than males. Weight is from 300 to 500 g. The carapace is flattened dorsoventrally. The color of the carapace is golden brown with radial dark brown stripes. Usually females have more rays on the carapace than males, but males are often more spotty. Between the thin bone plates there are multiple openings, due to which the carapace of African pancake tortoise has the ability to shrink. This feature of carapace structure allows animals to hide from predators in the cracks between the stones.

Distribution and mode of life

Common in eastern Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, northeastern part of Zambia).

Live in dry climates, mostly on rocky slopes and in bush thickets.

Life-span on average is from 20 to 30 years.


In the wild the diet of African pancake tortoise consists of grassy plants and succulents, seeds and fruits.


Mating occurs during the rainy season, egg laying usually happens in April - June. Females lay from 1 to 5 eggs in a light sandy soil to a depth of 7-10 cm or in the slit between stones. The duration of eggs incubation is from 117 to 188 days (an average 130 days). Newborn tortoise are about 4 cm in length, have a more dome-shaped carapace colored in bright yellow with brown-black spots on the plastron.

African pancake tortoises become sexually mature at the age of 4 - 6 years.

Conservation status

The species is on the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (VU - vulnerable), listed on the CITES (Annex II).

In Kyiv Zoo tortoise of this species live in a group in the ecological module in the pavilion "Desert".

African  Pancake Tortoise