IUCN threat status:

Critically Endangered (CR)

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Biology

The spider tortoise is most active during the wet months of the rainy season (5), when the vegetation is relatively lush, and the tortoise can feed on grasses (2), young leaves (1), the roots of succulents, and insects attracted to the flourishing plants (2). This tortoise is also known to feed on cow dung containing insect larvae (1). With the commencement of the dry season in April, many spider tortoises bury themselves deep into the sand and aestivate for the duration of the colder and drier weather, understood to be an energy-saving tactic for when vegetation is sparse (2) (5). Fairly little is known about reproduction in the spider tortoise (1), but it is thought to mate at the beginning of the rainy season, resulting in a single egg being laid (2). In captivity, females laid three times a year; whether this reflects true behaviour in the wild is not clear (2). The eggs are incubated for between 220 and 250 days before tiny hatchlings, measuring just 4.5 centimetres long, emerge (2). The young tortoises reach maturity in two years (2), and are estimated to live for up to 70 years (1).

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Source: ARKive

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