Species Spotlight Vol. 4

by Jordan Gray 

Image 1

Photo by Sheena KoethHome’s Hinge-back Tortoise (Kinixys homeana)

Countries of Origin: Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, and in the Democratic Republic of Congo

IUCN Status: Recommended for Critically Endangered

Estimated surviving population: Unknown/Declining

Habitat: Equatorial tropical and subtropical forests of varying types including lowland evergreen forests, forested swamps, dry forests bordering mangrove swamps, grassy thickets, and riparian zones.

Size: ≤ 23 cm

Factoid: The Hinge-back Tortoise is named for a morphological trait unique to this genus of tortoises. Adult specimens possess a “hinge” of connective tissue that forms between the fourth and fifth pleural and seventh and eighth peripheral bones during development at the juvenile stage. This hinge is primarily utilized for protection, whereby the tortoise can close off its soft-tissue to predators, but may also aid in egg-laying, respiration, and the funneling of water. Home’s Hinge-back Tortoises have been observed utilizing the hinge and its long back legs to lift its posterior off the ground during rainfall so that the water droplets run to the front of the carapace and can be collected by the mouth!

Greatest Threats: Habitat destruction associated with urbanization, agriculture, and timber harvesting. They have also been heavily exploited for decades by local, regional, and international food, traditional medicine, and pet-trade markets.

How you can help: Wild-caught Home’s hinge-back Tortoise and other members of the Hinge-back Tortoise group continue to enter the international pet-trade on a regular basis. You can directly help this species by not purchasing wild-caught tortoises and encouraging others to do the same. Additionally, the TSA is actively involved in breeding this species at the Turtle Survival Center. To support the TSA in this effort please donate at www.turtlesurvival.org/donate

To find out more about TSA’s conservation efforts with the Home’s Hinge-back Tortoise please CLICK HERE.