The elongated tortoise is a species of tortoise found in parts of south-east Asia. Their shell features an elongated shell giving rise to their name. They are alternatively known as the yellow-headed tortoise.
Elongated tortoises are omnivores. Their diet primarily includes plant matter such as leaves, fruit, mushrooms and invertebrates.
Females will dig in loose soil where they can deposit between three and five eggs.
These animals are critically endangered and have suffered major population declines as a result of habitat loss and collection for traditional medicines, the pet trade and food.
Read on to learn more about these reptiles.
Elongated tortoises have a shell on their back as in all tortoises. This is colored a pale-tannish yellow or caramel color with black splotches at the center of each scute. This pattern is highly variable and individuals have been recorded which are almost entirely black.
Their name comes from the elongated and slightly narrow shell.
The female has a concave plastron (underside of the shell) while this is flat in males. Males also have a longer and thicker tail.
Nails are present on the male and female. On the back feet of females they are longer and this is thought to act as an adaptation which helps them to dig their nests.
An adult elongated tortoise will measure 30cm (12in) long with a weight of 3.2kg (7lbs).
Elongated tortoises are omnivores which feed on soft leaves and fruit, mushrooms, invertebrates and occasionally feed on carrion.
Asia is the native home of the elongated tortoise. Here they can be found in the following countries – Bangladesh; Bhutan; Cambodia; India; Lao People’s Democratic Republic; Malaysia; Myanmar; Nepal; Thailand and Viet Nam.
The species has been introduced to China.
These animals are found in forest and shurbland habitats.
Tortoises will spend their time in fallen debris and buttresses or trees. They may also enter caves or burrows.
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During the breeding season males develop a pink color around the nostrils.
Females will deposit clutches with three to five eggs each season. These are deposited in to loose soil. Laying primarily occurs at night.
Incubation takes 100 to 120 days.
Animals tend to reach sexual maturity at 10-14 years old but it is primarily tied to sexual maturity which is reached at 20cm (8in) in carapace length. Females will lay two clutches of eggs each season.
These reptiles spend much of their time resting in piles of leaf litter and rarely bask.
Most of their activity occurs at dawn or dusk. They exhibit an increase in activity during the rainy season.
Predators and Threats
The elongated tortoise is considered critically endangered. They face a range of threats. The largest threats faced by them are collection for sale in to the illegal wildlife trade and use as food or traditional medicine. They are used in religious institutions driving collection. Their shells are turned in to decorative masks in some areas.
In recent years the amount of captive breeding in farms has helped to decrease pressure for collection from the wild.
Their habitat has also been reduced through logging for settlement and agriculture. In parts of their range this has reduced the available habitat by as much as half.
While a full estimate of their population is not available it is clear that the species is already depleted in parts of it range and is declining in the others.
The elongated tortoise is also known as the yellow tortoise.
A group of elongated tortoises is referred to as a creep.
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Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Marek Slusarczyk, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Reptiles Magazine. 2021. Elongated Tortoise Information And Care – Reptiles Magazine. [online] Available at: <https://www.reptilesmagazine.com/elongated-tortoise-information-and-care/> [Accessed 14 August 2021].
Rahman, S., Platt, K., Das, I., Choudhury, B.C., Ahmed, M.F., Cota, M., McCormack, T., Timmins, R.J. & Singh, S. 2019. Indotestudo elongata (errata version published in 2019). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T10824A152051190. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2019-1.RLTS.T10824A152051190.en. Downloaded on 14 August 2021.
Baker, N., 2021. Elongated Tortoise – Indotestudo elongata. [online] Ecologyasia.com. Available at: <https://www.ecologyasia.com/verts/turtles/elongated-tortoise.htm> [Accessed 14 August 2021].
McCormick, B., 1992. The Elongated Tortoise, Indotestudo elongata by Betsy McCormick. [online] Tortoise.org. Available at: <https://tortoise.org/archives/elongata.html> [Accessed 14 August 2021].
Thai National Parks. 2021. Indotestudo elongata, Elongated tortoise. [online] Available at: <https://www.thainationalparks.com/species/indotestudo-elongata> [Accessed 14 August 2021].
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