Friday 17 May
Radiated tortoise (Astrochelys radiata)
Radiated tortoise fact file
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Radiated tortoise description
The radiated tortoise (Astrochelys radiata) of Madagascar is one of the most attractive of all the tortoises. The high-domed, dark carapace is marked by brilliant yellow lines that radiate from the centre of each plate and create this tortoise's distinctive pattern (2). As individuals age, the dark pigment in the shell fades, producing a lighter coloured shell (4). The legs, feet and blunt-shaped head are also yellow in colour with the exception of a dark patch on the top of the head (2). Males can be distinguished by their longer tails and a notch in the under shell (plastron), below the tail (2). Juveniles are black and off-white when they hatch, but quickly develop the adult's striking colouration (2).
- Asterochelys radiata, Geochelone radiata, Testudo coui, Testudo desertorum, Testudo hypselonata, Testudo radiata.
- Tortue Radiée De Madagascar, Tortue Rayonnée.
- Tortuga Estrellada De Madagascar, Tortuga Rayada. Top
- The top shell of a turtle. In arthropods (insects, crabs etc), the fused head and thorax (the part of the body located near the head) also known as ‘cephalothorax’.
- A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
- In reptiles, the ventral shell of a turtle or tortoise.
IUCN Red List (October, 2009)
Animal Diversity Web (September, 2003)
CITES (September, 2003)
- Gibson, R. (2004) Pers. comm.
World Turtle Database (September, 2003)
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Radiated tortoise biology
Males reach sexual maturity once they have attained a carapace length of around 30 cm (2). Rival males will fight during the breeding season and attempt to roll one another onto their backs. They initiate courtship by a head-bobbing display and smelling the female's hind legs. This is followed by energetic circling and butting of the female's carapace. Once mating has occurred, the female lays her clutch of 3–12 eggs in a nest dug into the ground (2). Eggs are laid at the end of the wet season, between February and April, and hatch after 10 months or more (4). Hatchlings emerge within a few weeks of one another at the onset of the next rains, in November or December (4).Top
Radiated tortoise rangeTop
Radiated tortoise habitat
Inhabits the dry thorn forests and tropical woodlands of southern Madagascar (2).Top
Radiated tortoise statusTop
Radiated tortoise threats
The island of Madagascar has suffered widespread habitat destruction as the land is cleared to make way for charcoal production and short-term unsustainable development (4). In addition to habitat loss, these striking tortoises are targeted by the international pet trade and are also captured for food in some areas (2).Top
Radiated tortoise conservation
International trade in radiated tortoises is prohibited by its listing on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) (3). A number of conservation initiatives have recently begun under the jurisdiction of international conservation organisations such as the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) (4).Top
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