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Leopard Tortoise Care Sheet  (Geochelone Pardalis)

.There are currently two recognised subspecies of leopard tortoise these are Geochelone Pardalis Pardalis and Geochelone Pardalis Babcocki .The latter "Babcocki" being the most likely for you to encounter in captivity.Leopard tortoises particularly when young have a striking pattern of dark spots and splashes on a horn or cream coloured background.Some older individuals can have a washed out sandy or brown colour.

Leopard tortoises fare better with a good background temperature and seem to prefer 24C(75F) for the main enclosure or table indoors,with a minimum of 22C(72F) .I use a basking spot temperature of 32C-34C(90F-94F) under their combi lamps which seems to promote a good appetite and activity.Although you should provide a hide so they can get away from the lights, they do require a well lit enclosure. On my hatchling tables i have combi lamps with additional tube light to ensure the whole area remains well lit, even when the heatlamps are off.I do prefer the combi lamp because of the higher UV output.For adults i put their heatlamps on in the morning for about four hours so the larger adults are warmed right through.Then i open their hatches and allow them out too graze.Even the smaller adults often go a couple of hours before they need to be brought back in to the heat in the wintertime.

Leopards require a diet of approximately 70% grasses and 30% wild plants.This is normally achieved through grazing.Obviously this is not always possible in our climate so what i do particularly with hatchlings who rarely get the oppurtunity to graze during winter,is add finely chopped grasses to their diet of weeds.The weeds themselves are often made up of 50% plantains which are coarse and fibrous.When indoors they have permanent access to bowls of lime stone flour and cuttlefish.I then supplement their weeds a couple of times per week with vionate or nutrobal.

Adults soon become to much for the average household, so an insulated shed or outhouse with sufficient heating to maintain a night time temperature of 18C-20C(65F-68F) will be required.Even large adults should'nt be allowed to experience night time temperatures of below 16C(62F).Hatchlings and juveniles may go several months without being able to go outside and graze,so a table as large as is possible indoors will be required.I use a substrate of topsoil, and also be sure and provide a dry sleeping area as leopards have a tendency to urinate where they sleep. Which over a period of time can lead to shell rot.

Adult leopards need access to fresh water at all times and require bowls they can get their head right in, to drink.They do seem to prefer to get right into the water, so apart from several deep water bowls around their enclosure.I have a large plastic dog bed full of fresh water, which my largest girl likes to get into for a soak.Hatchlings need to be soaked daily and are particularly prone to dehydration so i always ensure they have a bowl of fresh water in their tables that they can walk in and out of for a soak.Juveniles over a 100mm will still require soaking at least 3 times a week and more during the winter when they are indoors.

Although you may not have considered the prospect of breeding your leopards ,if you keep healthy adults under reasonable conditions they may decide despite your best intensions to go ahead any way, and present you with a gravid female just about autumn time, when it is far to cold to find a suitable nest site outdoors.I have built a nesting box in my cellar with a heat lamp suspended over 18" depth of topsoil.Also a heated greenhouse could be used provided you can maintain adequate temperatures for the nest site,once again a heatlamp may need to be suspended to encourage nesting.