Geochelone – Typical tortoises

Often dig burrows or find shelter under rocks and vegetation to escape the heat and conserve moisture

These tortoises are primarily found in Asia and, historically, in Africa. These tortoises inhabit a range of environments, including dry savannas, grasslands, and semi-arid regions. Two prominent species within this genus are the Indian star tortoise (Geochelone elegans) and the Burmese star tortoise (Geochelone platynota). Historically, the genus also included the famous Aldabra Giant Tortoise (now classified as Aldabrachelys gigantea) and the Galápagos Tortoises (now classified as Chelonoidis niger).

Geochelone tortoises are characterized by their large, domed shells and sturdy limbs, which are adapted for terrestrial life. The Indian star tortoise and the Burmese star tortoise are particularly known for their stunning, star-patterned shells, which feature radiating yellow lines from the center of each dark scute. These patterns provide camouflage in their natural habitats, mimicking the dappled sunlight on the forest floor. Their heads are relatively small, with sharp, beak-like mouths designed for a herbivorous diet.

These tortoises are primarily herbivores, feeding on a variety of grasses, leaves, flowers, and fruits. Their diet is well-suited to their dry, often nutrient-poor environments. They have strong, serrated jaws that allow them to tear and chew tough plant material. In captivity, it is important to provide a diet that mimics their natural food sources, including high-fiber, low-protein vegetation, to ensure their health and longevity. Access to clean water is also essential, although these tortoises are adapted to survive in arid conditions and can go long periods without drinking.