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Sri Lankan Star Tortoises: Geochelone Elegans
Category: Rare & Exotic
Experience Level: Advanced Tortoise [?]
Care Sheet: Juvenile Tortoises
This subspecies of the Indian Star Tortoise is found only in Sri Lanka. The largest of the three subspecies, Sri Lankan Star tortoises have the most yellow coloration through out their very highly domed shells. The most impressive of the Indian Stars, their star patterns even develop on their plastrons (bottom shells) as they mature. Sri Lankan Stars are a sensitive and fairly shy tortoise, they become more outgoing and personable over time - even learning to recognize their keepers. Sri Lankan Star Tortoises are the rarest of the three subspecies, and their husbandry and dietary needs are the same as that of the other two Indian Star sub species which follows:
Indian Star Tortoises are at very the top of tortoise keeping the world over. The stunning beauty of their radiating star patterns is best understood by placing one in tall grass. Their unique pattern viewed through sunlit flowing grass renders them almost perfectly camouflaged.
Found through out much of the Indian sub-continent and Sri Lanka, this species has developed three geographic variations: Indian Star Tortoises from the north tend to be larger with darker coloration. Indian Star Tortoises from the south are smaller with more brilliantly contrasting patterns, and Indian Star Tortoises found in Sri Lanka are as bright as the southern form, (with even more yellow) and grow as large as the northern form.
Getting their specific diet right is a critical component of successfully keeping Star Tortoises. It must be high in fiber and carbohydrates that are easily digested - and low in sugars (no fruits). This is accomplished by feeding mostly dark leafy greens, lots of grasses, cactus pads, even grape and mulberry leaves. Flowers like hibiscus, petunias and dandelions are all very good for Indian Star Tortoises.“Wet”foods like tomatoes, and proteins must be avoided. Calcium supplements, with vitamin D3, are a must for all stars, especially for juveniles and breeding females. Care must be taken to make sure that sand cannot be eaten with their food. A sand- free enclosure, or section of their set up for feeding, is best to avoid serious impactions.
Indian Star Tortoises (Geochelone Elegans) are sexually dimorphic, meaning that the females grow much larger (up to 12 inches) than the males (about 8 inches). They do very well in groups, but Star tortoises are susceptible to problems caused by exposure to pathogens carried by other species of tortoises; and housing separate from other species is crucial.
Actually close cousins of Leopard Tortoises, Indian Stars Tortoises are found in deserts, savanna grasslands and forests. All their habitats are very dry and warm except during summer monsoon season. Indian Star Tortoises will not do well in even moderately humid and cool environments. They need to be kept in the low to mid 80s with basking areas around 95 degrees f. We soak our juveniles every third day in less than an inch of warm water. In order for Star Tortoises to metabolize calcium, Vitamin D 3 must be synthesized - providing a UVB basking bulb will accomplish this. Their enclosure should also include a dark hide box, far from the basking area to provide a full range of temperature options. In warmer dry months, protected outdoor pens that provide both sun and shade will contribute greatly to the Star Tortoise's good health.
Our Indian and Sri Lankan Star Tortoises are produced from two separate breeding colonies of very large, brightly colored adults. With their classic high domed shells and spectacular patterns, keeping these amazing creatures is well worth the keeper's extra attention to detail.
* Remember, each Tortoise order comes with a free starter sample of the same Tortoise diet your Tortoise has been raised on - to order larger quantities, see the lower left side of this page. *
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