Categorizations of Tortoises

Large dry land tortoises examples: Goechelone sulcata, Stigmochelys pardalis (Leopard tortoise), Gopherus agassizii (Gopher tortoise), Astrocheyls radiate (Radiated tortoise).

  • Live in grassland or desserts, open, hot, dry places
  • Herbivores

Small dry land species examples: genus Testudo (Mediterranean tortoises), Chelonoidis chilensis (Chaco tortoise), Pyxis arachnoids (Spider tortoise), Geochelone elegans and G. platynota (Star tortoise)

  • Largest category
  • Most in pet trade come from this group

Large forest species examples: Chelonoidis denticulata (yellow-footed tortoise), c. Carbonaria (Redfoot tortoise)

  • Generally live in tropical forest of the world (includes grassland and forest fringe)
  • Plant eaters/scavengers

Small forest species examples: M. impressa (impressed tortoise), Indotestudo elongata (Elongated tortoise), Kinixys (Hingeback tortoise)

  • Secretive forest floor fruit eaters
  • Main food from the forest floor (fruit, fungi, slugs, snales, etc)

Rock specialists examples: Malacochersus tornieri (Pancake tortoise), genus Homopus (padlopers tortoise group)

  • Don’t fall neatly into other groups
  • Live in rock outcroppings within the grassland (Serengeti, planes in Tanzania)

Island Giants examples: Galapagos (Pacific Galapagos archipelago) and Aldabras (Indian Ocean atoll of Aldabra)

  • Not so different from large species in dry lands
  • Highly adapted to isolated islands
  • Called reptilian cows because they graze like a cow