Egyptian Tortoise

The Egyptian Tortoise, Testudo kleinmanni, is a critically endangered tortoise. They live in deserts and semi-desert habitats, usually with compact sand and gravel plains, scattered rocks, shallow, sandy wades, dry woodlands, shrubby areas, and coastal salt marsh habitats. They were once widespread throughout Egypt, but now can only be found in Libya. Extinction is inevitable unless conversation actions are taken.

The shell is usually very bright ranging from ivory and pale to gold which help reflect the sun allowing them to stay out in the heat for longer (although it can also be dark brown and dull yellow) and also works as good camouflage for their desert habitat. Scutes have dark sidings that fade with age. Bottom of the shell is light yellow with two dark triangles on the two abdominal scutes although some do not have these. Head and limbs are a very pale yellow-ivory to yellowish-brown color. It has a high domed shell and a generally small body. In fact it is the smallest tortoise in the northern hemisphere. Females are larger than males while males are more slender with a longer tail.

The Egyptian Tortoise becomes sexually mature at around 10-20 years of age. In the wild mating has only been observed in March, where as in captivity they mate in April and August to November. In courtship the male will ram the female and then sometimes chase her. A strange thing about mating is the call made by the male which has been described as similar to the call of the Mourning Dove. This is unlike any other Mediterranean tortoise. Eggs are laid in nests dug by the Egyptian Tortoise or occasionally under the cover of bushes or in vacant burrows. 1-5 eggs per clutch and hatch in summer or early autumn.