Spider tortoise

Latin Name
Pyxis arachnoides arachnoides

Class
Reptiles

Order
Testudinata

Description

The spider tortoise is one of the smallest known land turtles. Fully grown, the species rarely reaches more than six inches in length. The reptile gets its name from the web-like yellow patterns marking the back of its shell.


 

Range

Spider tortoises are found only on the island of Madagascar.


Status

Spider tortoises are critically endangered due to habitat loss. Lincoln Park Zoo participates in the Madagascar Spider Tortoise Species Survival Plan®, a shared conservation effort by zoos throughout the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.


Habitat

This species occupies the desert-like region of southern Madagascar.


Niche

The spider tortoise spends much of the dry season burrowed beneath the surface in a state of slowed metabolism called aestivation. The species emerges with the rains, feeding on the fresh greenery that follows.


Life History

Females lay a single egg after breeding, a reproductive pattern that limits the species' natural recovery.




Lincoln Park Zoo Exhibit