Geographical Range Southern coast of Madagascar (island off the eastern coast of Africa)
Habitat Dry woodlands, brushlands, sand dunes
Scientific Name Pyxis arachnoides brygooi
Conservation Status Threatened

The spider tortoise gets its name from the web-like pattern of yellow lines on its carapace. With a total carapace length of about four inches, this is one of the smallest tortoises in the world.

There are three subspecies, or types, of spider tortoise. In the wild, all three types live in the desert-like habitats of southern Madagascar, where there are long dry spells alternating with brief wet (or at least “less dry”) periods. During the dry season, the tortoises burrow into the ground among shrubs and grasses. There these little reptiles brumate, rather than truly hibernate. After several weeks, the rains come and the little tortoises come out of hiding, quenching their thirst and devouring the newly-emerged plants. Spider tortoises also like to chomp on cow dung that’s filled with insect larvae. Yum!

Spider tortoises, like much of the wildlife in Madagascar, are threatened with extinction, largely due to habitat destruction.

Did You Know?

Little is known about the breeding habits of the spider tortoise, but we do know that a clutch consists of a single egg.