Indian Star Tortoise (Geochelone Elegans)
IUCN: Red List: Vulnerable
As its name suggests, the Indian Star Tortoise earns its name from the star shaped pattern adorned on its domed shell. Radiating bright yellow markings on the scutes of their carapace, this petite sized tortoise originates from the dry & arid forests of India & Sri Lanka. A sheer beauty to behold, this has however made the Indian Star Tortoise a prized target for the exotic pet trade which has caused wild populations to suffer in numbers.
Indian Star Tortoises originate from a wide range in India where many dwell in semi-desert grasslands & moist deciduous forests. They can be found mainly in dry scrub forests where they experience a distinct dry & wet season. In this habitat, the Indian Star Tortoise thrive on a purely vegetarian diet where they consume a variety of plant matter from leaves, fruits & berries which can be found in these arid environments.
The species has been observed to be shy, calm & gentle while exhibiting rather social qualities when compared with other species of tortoises. In captivity, they have been known to be housed in multiple numbers due to their relatively small size & friendly disposition. Like most tortoises, over handling is frowned upon as it causes unnecessary stress to the animal. In the wild, Indian Star Tortoises have been observed to begin mating rituals at the beginning of the monsoon season. Being a diurnal species, they are mostly active in the early mornings & late in the afternoon when the sun and heat isn’t as intense.
- They are mostly herbivorous and feed on grasses, fallen fruit, flowers, and leaves of succulent plants, and will occasionally eat carrion. In captivity, however, they should never be fed meat.
- The sexual dimorphism of adult Indian star tortoises is quite apparent. Females are considerably larger than their male counterparts. In addition, the females’ plastrons are much flatter than those of the males, which have a concave shape.
- The shape of this creature is presumed to be specially adapted to naturally assist it to return to a stable stance after it has been turned over.
Mathematicians Gábor Domokos of the Budapest University of Technology and Economics and Péter Várkonyi of Princeton University designed a homogeneous object called a gömböc that has exactly one unstable balance point and exactly one stable balance point. Just as a bottom-weighted (nonhomogeneous weight distribution) sphere would always return to the same upright position, they found it was possible to construct a shape that behaves the same way. After that, they noted the similarity to the Indian star tortoise and subsequently tested 30 turtles by turning them upside down. They found many of them to be self-righting.
- Female usually lays 7 eggs (up to 10) that hatch after 47 to 257 days (depending on a temperature). Young tortoises are born with butterfly- or bow-shaped pattern on the shell which slowly transforms into stars as they grow. Males reach sexual maturity at the age of 6 to 8 years, females at the age of 8 to 12 years.
Fruits & Vegetables
|Origin:||India and Sri Lanka|
|Size:||Up to 30cm|
|Weight:||Up to 2kg|
|Lifespan:||Up to 80 years|