Chaco Tortoise Fact File

Chelonoidis chilensis

Credit: A








Wild 20 years

Captive 20 years



Leaves, Fruits

Conservation Status



The Chaco tortoise is a small tortoise species found in South America's Chaco region from which they will take their name.

These animals are herbivores and will feed on a range of grasses, shrubs and fruit.

Males will engage in combat to gain mating rights with the female. Two males will attempt to wrestle until one has flipped the other on to its back. The victor will have mating rights with the female.

Unfortunately this species is increasingly threatened by habitat loss, competition from domestic livestock and collection for the pet trade.

Read on to learn more about these radical reptiles.


What does the Chaco Tortoise look like?

The Chaco tortoise features a hard shell on its back which is colored yellowish or dark brown. It may also feature dark brown or black rings featuring a tan center. There is a light serration along the edge of the shell. The underside of the shell is colored yellowish-brown.

Their skin which is colored greyish or yellowish-brown is found on the head, limbs and tail. On their front forelimbs are large scales.

An average Chaco tortoise will measure 15-25cm (6-10in) long.

Animals found in the South of their range tend to be larger than those which occur in the North.


What does the Chaco Tortoise eat?

These animals are herbivores. They feed on grasses, shrubs, fruits and cactus pads.

Chaco tortoise (Chelonoidis chilensis)

Credit: Arteivanna, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


Where can you find the Chaco Tortoise?

South America is the native home of the Chaco tortoise. Here they can be found in Argentina and Paraguay.


What kind of environment does the Chaco Tortoise live in?

These animals occur in dry habitats such as savanna and desert scrubland.

-- AD --


How does the Chaco Tortoise produce its young?

Mating takes place during November and December.

Each clutch of eggs will include one to six eggs. Length of incubation is highly variable and can last from 12 to 16 months.

Sexual maturity is reached by 12 years old.


What does the Chaco Tortoise do with its day?

These tortoises may enter in to combat in which they attempt to flip the other over on to its shell. Males may also bite their opponents on the leg.

They will dig burrows in the sandy soil where they can take shelter at night. They may also use them to avoid the heat of the day during summer.

In the southern areas of the range they use their burrow for a period of hibernation which can last up to 5 months.

Chaco tortoise (Chelonoidis chilensis)

Credit: Fernando Lopez Anido, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Predators and Threats

What is impacting the survival of the Chaco Tortoise?

The IUCN list this species as vulnerable meaning the species has been subject to some decline.

Invasive species such as goats have been reducing the availability of food and reducing the height of grass in their habitat making them easier for predators to spot.

They may be captured in small amounts for the pet trade.

Deforestation and destruction of their habitat has also accelerated the decline in their numbers.

Quick facts

These animals may also be known as the Argentine tortoise, Patagonian tortoise or the southern wood tortoise.

The Chaco tortoise was first described for modern science in 1870.

While their Latin name references the country of Chile they can not be found here.

Their name is taken from the Chaco region in South America where they can be found.

Some authorities propose three subspecies which may even be full species.

Chaco tortoise (Chelonoidis chilensis)

Credit: CHUCAO, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

References 2021. Chelonoidis chilensis. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 26 November 2021].

The Reptile Database. 2021. Chelonoidis chilensis. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 26 November 2021]. 2021. Chaco tortoise (Chelonoidis chilensis) - JungleDragon. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 26 November 2021].

world, Z., 2021. Best 5 Chaco Tortoise Facts, Size, Hibernation, Diet - Zoological World. [online] Zoological World. Available at: <> [Accessed 26 November 2021]. 2021. Arizona Tortoise Compound. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 26 November 2021].

Learn About Nature. 2021. Chaco Tortoise - Learn About Nature. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 26 November 2021].

Most Popular Animal this Week

Credit: Under License

Redbubble Store.

Similar Species

red footed tortoise

Latest reptile news stories

Gharial Hatchling at Fort Worth Zoo
Fort Worth Zoo Celebrate Hatching of Endangered Gharials
Burmese Brown Tortoise Hatchlings at San Antonio Zoo
Burmese Brown Tortoises Hatch in a First for San Antonio Zoo


Copyright The Animal Facts 2023

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap