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Leopard Tortoises


Scientific Name:

Geochelone pardalis


On average, leopard tortoises reach about 16-18 inches and 40-50 pounds (although some reach up to 24 inches and 70 lbs).

Life Span:

You can expect a leopard tortoise to live 50 years or more.


Leopard tortoise are herbivorous grazers so their ideal diet is high fiber grasses and greens. Pesticide-free grass is good for grazing, and the diet should primarily consist of grasses such at timothay or orchard grass or hay. Small amounts of vegetables can be offered too. Don't feed foods high in oxalates (beet greens, chard, spinach) or fruit (can cause digestive upsets). Also, never feed dog or cat food or other animal protein.


Calcium/vitamin D3 supplementation is recommended daily for leopard tortoises (D3 is especially important when housed indoors). Pieces of cuttlebone can also be provided for gnawing and extra calcium.

Housing - Outdoors:

Outdoor housing is preferable for leopard tortoises where the climate allows. Daytime temperatures should be 80-90 F (27-32 C), with a drop at night to 65-75 F (19-24 C). They cannot tolerate cool or damp conditions. A large sturdy enclosure with protection from predators is necessary, along with shade, hiding spots, and access to a shallow pan of water (deep enough to soak in but shallow enough that drowning isn't a possibility). A dry grassy area that allows grazing is ideal.

Housing - Indoors:

You may need to bring your leopard torotoises indoors for part or all of the year. Provide a large (4 feet by 8 feet minimum) enclosure. Grass hay makes an ideal substrate. A UVA/UVB lamp is vital. A basking spot at 95 F (35 C) should be provided, while the rest of the enclosure can be heated to 80-90 F (27-32 C) during the day and 65-75 F (19-24 C) at night. A shallow pan of water (deep enough for soaking but shallow enough to prevent drowning) should be provided.


Do not hibernate, although they may slow down in the cooler months.

Care Sheets Online:

  • Leopard Tortoise - by Darrell Senneke, a discussion of care for this species, including indoor and outdoor housing.
  • Leopard Tortoises - from the Tortoise Trust - information and care of this species, and some photos.
  • Leopard Tortoise Care - by Misty Corton, a thorough discussion of diet of leopard tortoises along with other aspects of general care and health concerns.

More Tortoise Information

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