Radiated Tortoise

    • Habitat:
      Xeric spiny forests, sandy coastal scrub, and rocky coastal outcroppings of the limestone-based Mahafaly and Karimbola plateaus of southwestern Madagascar
    • Threats:
      - Poaching for domestic and international food and pet markets
      - Habitat loss including the clearing of land for agriculture and livestock, and the harvesting of wood for charcoal
    • Conservation Efforts:
      - Rapid response and confiscations of illegally collected tortoises
      - Triage, veterinary care, and long-term care for tortoises seized from illegal collection
      - Reintroducing confiscated tortoises to the wild and conducting post-release monitoring
      - Community outreach and awareness
      - Promoting sustainable alternative livelihoods, building schools and water source infrastructure
    • Wild Population:
      Declining rapidly
    • Endangered Status:
      Critically Endangered

Fast Facts

Radiated Tortoises are most active during the morning hours of 6:30 &10:00 AM and late afternoon hours of 3:30 & 6:00 PM, when temperatures are cooler and the humidity is greater.

The seasonal activity patterns of this species are highly synchronized with precipitation. The greatest amount of activity occurs throughout the rainy season (December & February), during which time the region receives most of its roughly 40 cm (16 in) of annual rainfall.

This species is primarily an herbivorous grazer and forager, feeding on grasses, flowers, fruits, invasive Opuntia cacti, as well as dried leaves when soft vegetation is unavailable.

A long-lived species, the Radiated Tortoise is known to live well past the century mark, with the oldest known specimen, a female named Tu’I Malila, having lived to 188 years old!

Males average 40 cm (16 in) in length, Females average 36 cm (14 in). **The largest specimen we currently know of is a 24 kg (52 lb) female that currently resides at our facility in Tana after having been a long-term captive at the US Embassy there.

  • Females will lay between 1 & 3 clutches of 1 & 5 eggs during the end of the rainy season.
  • Egg incubation may last up to 10 months, strategically hatching the eggs at the onset of the next rainy season when new soft vegetation and water is in better abundance.

Species Snapshot