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Tortue Rayonnée © MNHN - F-G Grandin

The radiated tortoise

The radiated tortoise, Astrochelys radiata, is a species of tortoise native to Madagascar which can live up to a hundred years in captivity.


Class, order and family :
Reptilia, Testudines, Testudinidae
Life span :
up to 60 - 100 years in captivity
Size & Weight :
30-40 cm, up to 13 kg for females and 20 kg for males
Incubation period :
5 - 8 months, 3 - 12 eggs
Natural habitat :
dry forests
Diet :
vegetarian - grass, fruit
Native region :
Statut UICN : 

Critically Endangered (CR)


When temperatures soar in southern Madagascar, the radiated tortoise digs a deep burrow which provides it with shade and moisture. It stays there during the dry season to avoid the sun and dehydration.
During the breeding season, the males fight over the females. To clear the field, the strongest males flip their rivals onto their backs. During mating, the male makes very loud noises, like a groan, and the knocking of both partners’ shells can be heard from afar. Males and females have differently shaped undershells, the male’s being more concave to facilitate mating.

Distinctive features

The head and legs of the radiated tortoise are yellowish in colour except for the top of the head which is black. Its shell is black with yellow stripes – hence its name.


This tortoise is a victim of illegal trade because of its beauty and local beliefs, and also killed for its meat. This is one of the most endangered tortoises in the world.