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Egyptian Tortoise

The Egyptian tortoise, or Testudo kleinmanni, is a desert tortoise native to Egypt, Libya and some parts of Israel, but it is also a popular pet. However, because it has very specific requirements, having one as a pet is generally not recommended unless you are experienced. They are active mostly at dawn and dusk.

In the wild, they are found in desert and semi-desert areas with gravel and sand with scattered rocks or brush and dry woodlands. They can also be found in coastal salt-marsh areas. In this area they forage for leaves, grasses, flowers, fruits, and cacti. Females are about 5 inches and 400 grams, and males are about 4 inches and 105 grams, with females having a slightly more domed shell due to sexual dimorphism. Egyptian tortoises can live from 70 years to up to 100! Egyptian tortoises are the second smallest tortoise.


Image courtesy of Reptile Direct.

According to the IUCN, the Egyptian tortoise is classified as critically endangered, and CITES classifies them as ‘high risk’. There are around 7,470 individuals left and are protected in Egypt.

The main reason for the Egyptian Tortoise’s endangerment is habitat loss and collection for the pet trade. Loss of the Egyptian tortoise is caused by many reasons, including agricultural expansion, overgrazing, cultivation, and urbanization. This reduces the area where these tortoises can hide, find food, and live. During the 1980s and early ‘90s, collection for the pet trade took a huge toll on Egyptian tortoise numbers. After many populations of Egyption tortoises disappeared, pet collection moved to Libya, further threatening the species’ population.

The main thing you can do to help is not keep tortoises as pets, especially if you lack sufficient experience.

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Works Cited

Briggs, H., & Briggs, B. (2021, March 20). Egyptian tortoise Care: Size, Diet, Lifespan & More! Retrieved May 01, 2021, from

Egyptian tortoise. (n.d.). Retrieved May 01, 2021, from

Basic information SHEET: Egyptian Tortoise. (2016, February 01). Retrieved May 01, 2021, from

Cover image courtesy of Animalia

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