Geographical Range Central and southern India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan
Habitat Variety of habitats, from tropical forests to dry savannahs
Scientific Name Geochelone elegans
Conservation Status Common

Take one look at this beautiful tortoise, and you'll see where it got its name -- from the yellow star-like patterns on its carapace (upper shell). A typical male is about eight inches in shell length, while a female may grow as large as 12 inches.

The star tortoise is mostly herbivorous, eating a variety of plants - grasses, leaves, fruits, and flowers. But the tortoise won't say no to a bit of carrion (dead meat) now and then.

Star tortoises live in a wide variety of habitats, all of which have one thing in common: they have seasonal wet and dry periods. During the dry season, star tortoises are active only during the early morning and evening; during the rainy season (June to October), they may be active all day long.

The rainy season is prime time for mating. Courtship is a rather violent affair. Males aggressively ram and shove rival males to keep them away from potential mates. And the males aren't much gentler with the females: during courtship, they push and shove their mates.

Females dig their nest and lay between three and 10 eggs at a time, and they may repeat this between three and nine times each year. It can take up to five months for the eggs to hatch.

Did You Know?

As you travel south through India, star tortoises become gradually smaller. So you might expect to find really small tortoises in Sri Lanka (the island off the southern tip of India), but that's not the case: the island is home to some of the largest "stars."