The Afghan tortoise has a notably short period of activity, which may last for just three months of the year (7). This species emerges from hibernation in spring, usually around March, and will actively forage and mate until mid-June (7) (9).
The courtship and mating ritual is a little unusual, with the male repeatedly circling the female, then stopping to face her head-on. The neck of the male is extended, while the head is rapidly jerked up and down, accompanied by occasional biting and ramming of the female by the male. A clutch of two to six eggs are laid in May or June, and a further two, or even three, clutches may be laid the same season. Hatchlings usually emerge 80 to 110 days later, in August or September, although sometimes they spend the winter in the nest and do not emerge until the following spring. Although sexual maturity is attained at 10 years of age, this slow-growing tortoise is not considered full-grown until 20 to 30 years (3) (7).
In much of its range, this tortoise aestivates during the scorching summer heat, emerging briefly at the end of summer to feed prior to hibernation. The diet consists of herbaceous and succulent vegetation, including grasses (green and dried), twigs, flowers, fruits and the fresh leaves and stems of native and cultivated plants. This burrow-dwelling tortoise may dig a burrow up to two metres deep, to which it retreats at night and during the midday heat, emerging only at dawn or dusk to forage when temperatures are lower. The depths of its burrow also help to insulate the Afghan tortoise from the ravages of winter (7).