TortoiseTown.com Leopard Tortoise Care Sheet:

Caring for your new pet leopard tortoise is quite simple, once you do your research and are prepared.  If you are looking for tips on leopard tortoise care, feeding leopard tortoise, building a leopard tortoise habitat or tortoise table you have come to the right place.

Leopard Tortoise Availability

It is imperative that you find the correct breeder that is breeding healthy captive bred pet leopard tortoise for sale.  Captive-bred leopard tortoises are sometimes available but sometimes hard to find. Import of wild caught specimens into the United States was banned in 2000.  Before the ban leopard tortoises were commonly imported, and many people currently breed leopard tortoises, however Stigmachelys pardalis pardalis the Giant South African Leopard Tortoise is less common in collections than Stigmachelys pardalis babcocki, also known as the standard leopard tortoise for sale.

Leopard Tortoise Size

Adult leopard tortoises grow from 9 to 18 inches long (most grow 9-12″ at full maturity) depending on where the tortoise comes from (what geographic subspecies it is from). The Giant South African subspecies, Stigmachelys pardalis pardalis, can grow up to 24 inches, however most reach around 14-18″, and the leopard giants from Ethiopia and Somalia can grow up to 30 inches. Most of the time you will find the females outgrowing the males, however depending on the geographic origin of the leopard tortoise baby this may be reversed, or male and females may be of similar size.  Remember that the males will have a concave plastron, and a longer tale, where females would have a much shorter tail and convex plastron.

Life Span of the Leopard Tortoise:

Leopard tortoises live between 50 and 100 years in the wild.

Leopard Tortoise Habitat and Cage setup

Leopard Tortoises do very well as pets whether they are living indoors in a tortoise table style enclosure, or outside in areas where the temperature does not dip below 55 degrees at any time.  A pair of adult leopard tortoises for sale can be kept in a 4 foot by 8 foot setup or tortoise table.   It is important that the walls are a solid material so the tortoise cannot see thru them, and for that reason aquariums are normally not recommended unless the walls can be covered so the animals cannot see through them.  You should make sure the tortoise table walls are at least 16-18″ tall and can be made of wood, block or other material that prevents the baby leopard tortoise from seeing beyond or through the wall. Leopards are very calm and do not try to dig, or escape like some other breeds of tortoise may do.

Be sure to provide plenty of hiding places, a hide box and if outdoors plenty of shrubbery to provide cover to the leopard tortoises.  Planting things like grass that is edible in some portion of the outdoor enclosure is preferred.  Provide some uncovered soil areas if your tortoises are old enough to lay eggs, etc.  Some rolling terrain is recommended. You will often find your leopard tortoise basking in the sun at the highest point of it’s terrain.

Adult leopard tortoises can be housed indoors in a stock tank, plastic pool or large tub. Although a pair of adult leopard tortoises could be maintained in an enclosure measuring 8×4 and 1.5 feet tall, larger areas allow more time between cleaning and changing substrates.   Keep in mind they will not be adult size for over a decade.

We recommend a variety of coconut husk, and forrest floor as an enclosure substrate, but regular potting soil may also be used.   It is important to also offer different micro-climates where the temperature varies like moist hide boxes as well as basking spots and heated areas using a heat lamp or ceramic heating element. 

Leopard Tortoise Temperature and Lighting

One of the best things about having a pet Leopard tortoise is it does not hibernate. They generally live in areas that are between 70-100 degrees F in their natural habitat.  For indoor tortoise table or enclosure of the leopard tortoise, temperatures should be kept between 75 and 90 degrees, with a basking spot of UVB light and heat of 95 degrees.   Both natural sunlight or UVB light plays an important role in how the body grows and absorbs and uses calcium. UVB light or natural sunlight allows the tortoise to produce vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is crucial for the tortoise to absorb and use the available calcium. UVB can be achieved  by using fluorescent tubes specially made for reptile use. If fluorescent tubes are used for UVB, a separate light or heating element, normally ceramic, may be required for heat.

If housed in an outside or outdoor enclosures for leopard tortoise hatchlings may handle a wider range of temperatures, but once temperatures drop into the 50s at night or daily high temperatures fail to exceed 70 degrees, move tortoises indoors or provide heat. Heat may be provided with items such as ceramic heat emitters, infrared heat lights, etc.

Leopard Tortoise Food

Leopard tortoises are grazers and feed on a variety of weeds and greens.  Their diet should be rich in calcium and fiber.  In addition to grazing the captive diet may be supplemented a couple times a week with collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens and flowers, hibiscus leaves and flowers, grape leaves, escarole, mulberry tree leaves, spineless cactus pads (Opuntia spp.), carrots, zucchini, butternut squash, pumpkin, mushrooms, sweet potato, yellow squash, and bell peppers. Soaked Tortoise food may also be included in their daily dietary needs.

Although some tortoisekeepers supplement the diet with manufactured vitamins and vitamin D3, I have not found these necessary if the leopard tortoises are provided a varied diet and exposed to UVB light. Hatchlings should be fed daily and may benefit from food that is lightly sprinkled with calcium powder several times a week.

Leopard Tortoise Water

Leopard tortoises readily drink standing water. A shallow water area may be provided, checked on daily and cleaned as required. The size of the water dish should be large enough so the tortoise can get in and out easily and only deep enough to drink.  Hatchlings may be soaked one, two or three times a week in shallow, warm water. They drink and often and sometimes defecate in the water while being soaked so it should always be changed daily.

Leopard Tortoise Handling and Temperament

Leopard tortoises are shy and will withdraw their head and limbs until they are used to their home/habitat. Over time, however, they generally learn to recognize their keepers and will come for food and if handled in the correct manner will become great pets.  

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