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The Egyptian Tortoise

Testudo Kleinmanni – Described by Lortet in 1883 – has several common names: the Egyptian tortoise, the miniature tortoise and the Kleinmann tortoise. They are a costal species, and are never found any more than 100km from the sea.

This little tortoise has unfortunately become very rare over the last couple of decades and is now bordering on extinction. Their natural range is limited to Northern Egypt, Western Negev, Israel and Northern Cyrenaica, Libya. Despite conservation efforts from groups such as The Tortoise Trust, it is still being exploited for the black market pet trade and tourist trades – often resulting in the deaths of animals to make a macabre musical instrument out of their carapaces.

The level of melanin present in their shells, along with their overall colouration, varies between individuals depending on their locations. Animals living in red-coloured sandy environments often have a red-pink hue to their shells.

Whereas the usual colour of these specimens is a very light green-yellow. None of these tortoises have any distinct dark blotched or markings on their carapace, with the exception of a very thin black line around the perimeter of each individual scute. However, some specimens don’t even have this, thus their overall appearance is very light and bland.

One of the most easily recognisable features of this animal are its overall dimensions, as most full grown specimens are only between 10 and 12cm in length. In fact the largest recorded animal was only 12.7cm. Other characteristics include a flexible plastral lobe (in both sexes), an extra wide nuchal scute and a high domed shape to the carapace. The plastron is also very light in colour, but features a single dark triangular splodge on both abdominal scutes. It lacks any thigh spurs or tail spurs as seen in T.Graeca and T.Hermanni respectively, and can have either a single or divided supracaudal scute.

Gender Diversity

The main differences between the sexes in this animal are body size and body shape. Males are dimensionally smaller than females with a narrower waist and rear marginal flaring.

The males also feature a long and thicker tail than their female companions.

The male plastron is concave whereas the female plastron is flat.

Identification in Brief

  • No spurs or tubercles on the thighs
  • No horny tip on the end of the tail
  • Flexible plastron in both sexes
  • A single triangular blotch on each abdominal scute only
  • Lack of central blotches on carapace scutes
  • Very wide nuchal scute
  • Incredibly small size

Requirements

Housing

Both outdoor and Indoor/greenhouse accommodation

Substrate

Sandy

Diet

Herbivorous

Planting

Cacti, Grasses & Weeds

Hibernation

No

Other

-Cannot tolerate cold or damp

-Year round heated accommodation

-Cannot be hibernated