Werribee Open Range Zoo

Leopard Tortoise

The Leopard Tortoise is the fourth largest species of tortoise in the world and can grow up to two feet in length and weigh up to 32kg. As with many other tortoise species, the Leopard Tortoise has a long lifespan, often reaching 100 years or more.

Generally a solitary animal, the Leopard Tortoise spends the majority of its time grazing on plants, which it does effectively by using its sharp beak-like mouth. The Leopard Tortoise is a herbivore, meaning that it only eats plants and plant material in order to sustain itself. This tortoise primarily grazes on grasses, leaves, berries and flowers along with fruits such as the prickly pear and the occasional mushroom. The Leopard Tortoise at Werribee Open Range Zoo munch on a reptile salad mix and other vegetables. For treats, they enjoy delicacies such as hibiscus flowers, thistles and dandelions!

This large species of tortoise is found throughout the African savannas and is the most widely distributed tortoise species in Southern Africa. It can be found in sub-Saharan Africa from Sudan to the Cape. As a grazing species of tortoise, the Leopard Tortoise is most commonly found in semi-arid areas including shrubland and the open, grassy plains of the savannah, allowing them plenty of space to lug their hefty bodies around, unencumbered by too much brush. 

Come and visit the Leopard Tortoise exhibit on the Pula Walking Trail. Leopard Tortoise are particularly sensitive to the cold so you’ll notice that their exhibit includes outdoor areas for sunny days and cosy inside space for those cooler times.

Meet the animals

Walter

Walter hatched on 9 August 2005. He looks very similar to Alfred and although he is the youngest of the group he is also the heaviest.

Gilbert

Gilbert hatched on 3 July 2005. He has three distinct spots on his left shoulder scute (shell plate) and markings on his right scute that look like a sad face. 

Neville

Neville hatched on 2 July 2005. He is the easiest to recognise as his shell is quite pale and golden. 

Alfred

Alfred hatched on 18 July 2005. He looks very similar to Walter and they both weigh a similar amount so it can be tricky to tell these two apart, even for our Keepers!

Humphrey

Humphrey hatched on 28 July 2005 and is the smallest of the group.

Did you know?
  • The individual plates that make up the shell are called ‘scutes’. The top of the shell is called the ‘carapace’ and the bottom is the ‘plastron’. The carapace of a Leopard Tortoise is tall and deeply curved. The limbs of the Leopard Tortoise are able to retract back into the shell so that no body part is left vulnerable. 
  • While Leopard tortoises are herbivores in the wild they will gnaw on old bones in order to get sufficient calcium. 

  • The shape of the Leopard Tortoise shell allows them to right themselves should they become overturned.

  • Leopard Tortoise shell markings are unique, just like our fingerprints.

  • The collective noun is a creep of tortoises!