Animals / Reptiles

The Indian Star Tortoise

Синонимы и названия на других языках

Indian star red tortoise 

Indische Sternschildkröte (German)


Order: testudines

Family: testudinidae

Subfamily: geochelone

Genus: geochelone

Species: Geochelone elegans.


The Indian star tortoise is native to India, Sri Lanka and southern Pakistan. They can be found in savannahs, rainforests and near the sea coasts. They prefer to live on the borders between  sandy and grassy soils. The Indian star tortoise is active during the wet season, and it hibernates during the dry season.

Внешний вид

Females of Indian star tortoise are larger than males, they can reach 25 cm, whereas males don’t grow more than 15 cm. Tortoises in Sri Lanka and Pakistan and slightly bigger than their Indian counterparts.

It has a very beautiful convex carapace with star-like yellow pattern on dark-brown or black background. Such colouring, although highly contrasting, makes great disguise among dry vegetation and protects the tortoise from predators. 

There have been described two morphs of this species. In one morph the new-born tortoises have orange carapace with yellow stripe along the spine. The other morph has yellow carapace without stripes.


Wild tortoises hide in their shells when they see people. Once they get used to people, they can be hand-fed and handled. They have peaceful disposition and don’t bite. They are active in the mornings and in the evenings.

It is not recommended to let them walk outside, even in a pen, since they are real escape artists. They often dig under fences and walk away.

The Indian star tortoises prefer to sleep during the daytime. 

Содержание и уход

For a couple of adult tortoises you will need a horizontal tank not less than 100 cm long, 60 cm wide and 50 cm tall.

For substrate you can use sand or gravel. The layer has to be thick enough for the tortoise to bury itself in. The reptile will also need a hiding place: a stone cave or a wooden house for rodents with a wide entrance. If possible, you should set a damp chamber: you can use a plastic box and cut there an entrance. Inside the box you should put damp sphagnum. You will need a shallow water bowl where the turtle can also climb in. It is a good idea to bathe your tortoise a couple of times a week. You can do it in a shallow basin (the tortoise’s head always has to be above the water).  It would be useful to add mineral water in the water bowl.

The ambient temperature should be about 23°C at night and 28°C at daytime. In the basking spot it can reach 32°C (under the reflector or a heating lamp). UV lamps are a must.

The air humidity should be not less than 80%.

Your tortoise will need at least 12 hours of bright light per day. 


The Indian Star Tortoise is a herbivorous species. Their menu consists of vegetables, fruit and herbs, such as lettuce, dandelions, squash, pumpkins, pears and apples. You should cut them finely or grate and put in a shallow bowl so that the reptile can crawl into it. It is important to take away uneaten food in time, so that it doesn’t rot. You will have to add to the food vitamins and mineral supplements, as well as some protein food – mealworms, crickets and cockroaches.

You shouldn’t give your tortoise too much fruit at a time, it can cause diarrhea.

You can feed the tortoise with special commercial food that contain all the necessary vitamins and minerals.

The Indian star tortoise should be fed daily. 


The Indian star tortoise doesn’t have brumation period.

It is a peaceful reptile that gets used to handling easily and can be hand-fed.

They can be fed with commercial food.

This tortoise requires a large tank.



Respiratory diseases are quite common among these tortoises. They occur if a tortoise is cold or stays in a draft.

The main symptoms include panting, gaping, swollen eyes, lethargy and loss of appetite. Treatment consists of antibiotics that have to be prescribed by a vet. Also you will need to eliminate draughts and install a special heat pad.

A tortoise can get diarrhea if it eats too much fruit. Then you should change the reptile’s menu and add to its water some tea made of oak bark: it stops diarrhea and helps against irritated bowels.


The Indian star tortoise becomes sexually mature at the age of 10-12 years old. Males are usually later than females. After mating a female lays 2-3 clutches, 3-6 eggs each, and buries them in the ground. You have to take out the eggs and put them in the incubator for 60-170 days under the temperature of 28-30 degrees. The hatchlings have single-colour shell, the pattern appears later. The hatchlings have to be fed daily, with added vitamins and calcium supplement. They will also require UV light. The small tortoises grow very slowly.  

Average life span is up to 80 years.

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