Geographical Range Southern and southeastern Asia, from Nepal to Malaysia
Habitat Tropical forests in hilly areas
Scientific Name Indotestudo elongata
Conservation Status Endangered

Like its name implies, this turtle has an elongated, stretched-out appearance: its carapace (upper shell) is long -- measuring up to12 or more inches -- and somewhat narrow. The carapace is yellowish brown or olive and the head is pale yellow or yellowish green. It's no surprise, then, that the elongated tortoise is also called the yellow tortoise or yellow-headed tortoise.

These tortoises are omnivores, meaning they eat both plant and animal foods. Their favorite edibles include fruits, flowers, mushrooms, slugs, and carrion (dead meat -- yummy!). They do most of their foraging during the cooler times of day -- before dawn or after sunset.

In the early part of the rainy season, the tortoises turn their attention to courtship and mating. But don't expect the males to gently woo their chosen mates! On the contrary, the male idea of courtship includes ramming the female and biting her head, neck, and front legs. (Ouch!) The female uses her back legs to dig a nest about six to eight inches deep. She lays two to four large eggs in the nest, then replaces the soil with her back legs and tamps it down with her bottom shell. The eggs can hatch either sooner (after about four and a half months) or later (after six or more months).

Elongated tortoises are in serious trouble in the wild. In recent years, hundreds have been captured for the pet trade and thousands caught and sold as food in Asian markets. Although there are laws designed to control the international trade in elongated tortoises, the laws need greater enforcement to be effective. You can help by not buying an elongated tortoise as a pet.

Did You Know?

During the breeding season, both males and females develop a bright pink tint around the eyes and nostrils. For this reason, the species is known by yet another common name, the red-nosed tortoise.