Common Name: Pancake Tortoise

Latin Name: Malacochersis tornieri

Adult Size: 7-8 inches (17-20cm)

Life Span:  20-25+ years

Daytime Temperature: 75-80°F

Basking Spot: 85°F

Nighttime Temperature: 70-75°F

Humidity: Low.  30% or less


Habitat:  It is found on hillsides with rocky outcrops (known as kopjes) in arid thorn scrub and dry savanna grasslands, from 100 to 6,000 feet (30 to 1800 metres) above sea level.

Distribution: This East African species of tortoise is native to southern Kenya and northern and eastern Tanzania, and an introduced population may also occur in Zimbabwe and has also been reported in Zambia.


Diet:  Zoo Med’s Grassland Tortoise Food, varied greens, fresh vegetables. Dust with Repti Calcium® and ReptiVite™. Provide access to a Zoo Med Turtle Bone to help wear down beak and provide extra calcium.

Fun Fact: Pancake Tortoises are fast and agile climbers and are rarely found far from their rocky homes. When disturbed, they make a dash for the nearest rock crevice. Since this tortoise could easily be torn apart by predators, it must rely on its speed and flexibility to escape from dangerous situations, rather than withdrawing into its shell. The flexibility of its shell allows the pancake tortoise to crawl into narrow rock crevices to avoid potential predators, thus exploiting an environment that no other tortoise is capable of using.


Tortoise Care:

Feed daily to every other day. Always provide a source of clean, shallow water.

Tortoises require UVB to help keep their bones and shell strong. We recommend a ReptiSun® linear fluorescent or a PowerSun® UV bulb.

Spot clean the habitat regularly. We recommend cage carpet or ReptiSand® as substrate.

Provide several hiding places – at least one on the warm side and one on the cool side of the enclosure. One hide should be lined with moist moss or Eco Earth to create a humid microclimate.

Males may fight, so we do not recommend housing multiple males together.

**Special note about Pancake Tortoises: These animals are EXTREMELY good at climbing and will climb out of a habitat if given the chance. Use a screen top or make sure that no “ladders” (huts, dishes, décor, etc…) are left by the sides of the habitat to prevent escape.