By Jacque’line Wright, Newport Aquarium PR Aide
Bravo, the famous 650-pound the Galapagos tortoise, isn’t the only species leaving Newport Aquarium March 1. Say goodbye to the Spider tortoise and Egyptian tortoise too! These tortoises may not weigh as much as Bravo, but they have their own unique characteristics that make them just as cool!
-The Egyptian tortoise may make a mating call similar to the call of the mourning dove.
-The Egyptian tortoise is considered the second smallest species of tortoise in the world.
Where can they be found?
These tortoises can be found along the Mediterranean coastal strip of the North African coast extending from Libya to beyond the Nile Delta in Egypt. As these tortoises are on the verge of becoming extinct, they can still be found in the Libyan regions of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica.
What habitat do they live in?
The Egyptian tortoise is associated with desert and semi-desert habitats, which consist of compact sand, rocks, and gravel plains. The habitat for the turtles found along the Mediterranean coastal strip would be coastal salt marshes.
What do they eat?
These tortoises are found in the desert where food may not always be available, but their usual diet is rough grasses, desert plants and fruit.
What are their physical features?
The Egyptian tortoise can have a wide variety of shell colors, including ivory, dull yellow, golden, bright straw-color to dark brown. The pale colors allow the tortoises to camouflage into the sandy, rocky habitat.
Egyptian tortoises are classified as Critically Endangered (CR A2abcd+3d) on the IUCN Red List 2004 and listed on Appendix I of CITES.
Where can they be found?
The Spider tortoise can be found in the region of the coastal areas of southwestern Madagascar about 5-30 miles inland from the coast. The furthest north they can be found is Morombe.
What Habitat do they live in?
They live in habitats that consist of sandy areas with spiny vegetation and that are close to the coast. The rainfall in their habitat is usually low and irregular.
What does it look like?
The Spider tortoise has a shell that is highly curved, and widens towards the rear. It has five to eight yellow lines radiating out from the center, which are easily seen because of the dark brown background. These yellow stripes are how the Spider Tortoise got its name.
Spider tortoise are classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List, listed on Appendix I of CITES and and listed as Endangered under Malagasy National Law.
(References: arkive.org and zoo.org)