Speckeled Cape Tortoise

Homopus signatus

About This Animal

SIZE: 4 in (10 cm)

RANGE: Northern and Western Cape, South Africa

HABITAT: Arid woodlands and scrub savannah

DIET: Plants

ON EXHIBIT:  Turtle Gallery in River Journey

Speckled Cape tortoises (also known as padlopers) are the smallest living species of turtle.  They are fairly common in their limited range but are rare in captivity, even in South Africa.

Because padlopers spend so much time hiding in rocky areas, scientists don't know a lot about some of their habits.  For instance, little is known about their rituals of courtship, mating, and nesting.  We do know that females lay a single egg in summer.  This means the tortoises can't reproduce quickly -- yet another reason they're in trouble in the wild.