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Leopard Tortoise Care Sheet
 
 
 
Leopard Tortoises are beautiful black and yellow tortoises with intricate spotted patterns on their shells.
 
Distribution - Leopard Tortoises are found in hot, dry scrubland areas in southern Africa. They live in the underbrush, seeking refuge from the heat under brushy plants and other shady areas. They browse grass and plant growth.
 

Size - Leopard Tortoises grow quite large, with many adults reaching 14 inches to 16 inches. Large females of G. p. pardalis can reach 18 inches to 20 inches and 40 to 60 pounds, but captive specimens this large are rare.  This is the second largest tortoise you can keep in captivity.

 

Environment & Enclosure - The most common form of indoor accommodation Leopard Tortoises as a juvi is a tortoise table. Of course, as the tortoise grows, it will need larger and larger enclosures. A pair of adult Leopard Tortoises will require an enclosure that is at least 4' wide x 6' long.

 
The substrate for Leopards can be a mixture of sand and Eco Earth (coconut Husk). A layer of grass hay can be added at one end to provide some shelter. The substrate should be kept dry as Leopard Tortoises are very sensitive to damp conditions.
 
Heat and Lighting: Heat should be provided using a heat-emitting bulb in a lamp from overhead. Ideally, this heat lamp should hang just about 12 inches above the substrate. The heat-emitting bulb should be provide a basking spot of 90 to 95 F (32 to 35 C) at one end of the enclosure. This will provide a hot end for the tortoise to enjoyWe use a Mercury Vapor bulb. It provides heat, UVA, and  UVB all in one bulb. The Zoo Med Powersun 100 watt bulb. This UVB is necessary for Vitamin D3 production (needed for calcium absorpion, proper muscle functioning, etc.). This light is on 12 hours a day.
 
In the evening you need to have a reptile heat pad. A reptile heating mat underneath is perfect. Big enough the they fit on it. It needs to be placed under or protected from the tortoise laying directly on it, or chewing on it. The heat mat needs to be on 12 hours a night.
 

Diet - Leopard Tortoises should be fed a diet that is very high in fiber. They will feed eagerly on a mixed salad of greens and vegetables each day( see our chart), but a keeper should try to offer as much grass, hay, dandelions, leaves, and Opuntia cactus pads as possible. A sprinkle of calcium should be offered on the salad every day and a multi vitamin once a week. For optimal health, they should be fed fruits not at all. Leopard Tortoises should not be fed any dog food or cat food as they are prone to renal problems and medical issues related to high protein diets. We also feed Mazuri Tortoise Diet as a main staple.

 
Water: Water should be offered in a flat saucer. This can be a flat dish or a plastic saucer which is normally placed under a plant pot. These can be easily cleaned and sterilized daily. No deeper than the top of their neck. Allow them to soak in it.
 

Health - Leopard Tortoises require warm, dry environments and so keepers living in humid areas should be very careful about keeping Leopard Tortoises outdoors. Living on the damp ground will cause serious medical problems with Leopard Tortoises.

 
As with sulcatas, Leopard Tortoises are found in hot, dry habitat. Thus, their captive enclosures should reflect this need. When kept cool or damp for an extended period of time, a keeper can expect a Leopard Tortoise to begin showing respiratory problems. The early signs are puffy eyes, runny noses, etc. A keeper should strive to maintain an enclosure that is hot and dry to avoid these health issues. As Leopard Tortoises are really only available as captive-hatched babies these days, a keeper should not be concerned about internal parasites unless a baby has been kept in the enclosure with wild-caught adults or wild-caught tortoises of another species (A HUGE MISTAKE!). Long-term lack of appetite, runny or smelly stools, and blood in the feces are signs of a problem and a keeper should approach a qualified veterinarian if any of these signs are noticed.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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