- Enclosure 4 feet long, 2 feet wide and 18 inches tall can house up to three or four adults.
- Provide ample hides
- Temperature, Humidity, & Lighting:
- Temperature: These tortoises are not big fans of intense lighting, so use a ceramic heat emitter to create a basking spot of about 85 F placed in center of tank, rather than one end- This gives a fairly even thermo gradient from the center to the ends of the tank. Leave heat on 24 hrs/day.
- Humidity: 77 to 85 percent- maintain moist substrate and hides to keep humidity up
- Lighting: This light sensitive species will require lots of opportunities for cover. Use UV lighting in the form of a T8 bulb over the tank, set to 12 hr cycle.
- Substrate: ground or shredded coconut core. Layer of sphagnum moss on top of the coconut bedding and under the hides. Moisten the substrate with water to create a humid tank but not sopping wet.
- Place a shallow water bowl for soaking
- In the wild: found to eat slugs, small rodents and carrion.
- Under human care: They do well on dark, leafy greens, such as mustard and collard greens and kale. They also enjoy fruit or melon once per week. Enjoys softened monkey biscuits. Offer fresh greens three times a week. Offer 2x/week pre-killed mice, canned dog and cat food, or canned Tortoise & Lizard Diet (Zoo Med).
- Supplement food items with a calcium/multivitamin supplement at each feeding
Notes on Enrichment & Training
- Check out the Reptelligence Facebook page and Reptelligence website for enrichment and training inspiration.
- Advancing Herpetological Husbandry July 2018 Quarterly Newsletter- Article Environmental Enrichment for Reptiles By Charlotte James
Colony or Breeding Management
Notes species is housed or managed socially or for breeding purposes.
Dimorphism or practiced ways to individually mark species (such as those in colonies, like giant millipedes).
- Brandywine Zoo: small reptiles travel in a Coleman “Party Stacker” type cooler that has been amended with extra ventilation holes on the lid (with a wood-burning tool). The cooler is lined with newspaper and, during cool weather (under 65°F), supplemental heat is provided with a hot water bottle (wrapped in newspaper)
Tips on Presentation
Tips on Handling
- In general, animals seen at the zoo do not make good pets. Most have specialized dietary, veterinary, housing, and social needs that are difficult or impossible for even dedicated pet owners to meet. Always ensure that your future pet has not been taken from the wild. Capture of wild animals for the pet trade has significantly damaged the survival prospects of species such as sloths, tamanduas, and many parrots. Captured animals are typically mistreated by profit-motivated traffickers and dealers, resulting in many animal deaths; well-meaning animal lovers may feel like they are rescuing animals by purchasing them but are really perpetuating the cruelty. In addition, many exotic pets are released by their owners when they become too dangerous or demanding, often with devastating effects on local ecosystems. Animals that should never be kept as pets include all bats, primates, and exotic carnivores. Birds, fish, and reptiles have specialized needs, are frequently wild-caught, and damage the local environment if released; guests should be advised to educate themselves and proceed with caution. Domestic dogs and cats are almost always the best option! Many deserving animals are available for adoption at animal shelters. http://www.philadelphiazoo.org/Save-Wildlife/Images/PetWalletBro2012.aspxhttp://pin.primate.wisc.edu/aboutp/pets/index.html
Most hingeback tortoises for sale in the United States are imported from Africa, and often arrive in rough shape. Babies are sometimes found for sale, but they are far and few. Captive breeding is increasing, but at a tortoise pace.
Comments from the Rating System
- Children’s Zoo at Celebration Square: Our male hingeback was extremely easy to care for (although this is not common – they are typically hard to keep in captivity). We utilize this in messaging about how they are not good as pets. He does extremely well for handling and shows. Everyone (public, kids, adults, staff, volunteers) loves him since he is so well behaved and also very adorable. His favorite snack is banana and he will eat it from your hand. We had some issues with watery eyes in the winter 2 years in a row but it cleared up after using drops and no other signs of illness. He was housed alone and then later on with a 0.1 Central American Ornate Wood Turtle. There were no aggression issues but he did try to mount her a lot and they would have to be separated during his breeding season. Otherwise they got along very well and were exhibited together.
Natural History Information
Range and Habitat
- Range: West Africa, from Liberia, east to Cameroon, and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- Natural Habitat: Tropical swamps; tropical and subtropical lowland forests.
6 to 9 inches.
25 to 60 years.
Threats and Conservation Status
Did you know…
Cover photo: PHOTO BY WILFRIED BERNS, WWW.TIERMOTIVE.DE/WIKIMEDIA
Any Documents to attach, species spotlights, etc.
- Check out sample animal policies, handling sheets, and fact sheets on our Example Policies & Guidelines page
- View past issues of Program Animal SAG Newsletters
- Ambassador Animal SAG Newsletter Vol. 2, Issue 3: Temperature and Transport: Welfare Implications for Ambassador Ectotherms
- Choice, Control, and Training in Ectotherms, By Carrie Kish
- Stress Management in Reptiles and Frogs
- Reptile Lighting Information
- Check out the Advancing Herpetological Husbandry Facebook group. They have also published several newsletters (see Reptiles page for links).
- See: AAH -January 2018 Quarterly Newsletter Article: Temperature and Heat for Reptiles By Roman Muryn
Contributors and Citations
- Houston Zoo, Natural Encounters
- Reptiles Magazine