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Pancake Tortoise

Pancake Tortoise
Malacochersus tornieri

The Pancake Tortoise has to be one of the strangest looking tortoises due to their flattened shell. They are a small size growing to 15-17cm and originated from East Africa.

EnvironmentArid deserts, Rocky outcrops
Adult Size 6-7 Inches
Life Span35 Years+

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What do Pancake Tortoises look like?

Pancake tortoises are unlike any other tortoise, making them a highly sought after pet. This unique species is flat bodied with a flexible thin shell that allows them to be quite agile climbers. On average their shell grows to be six to seven inches in length and around one inch in height. The carapace (top of the shell) is brown in colour with variable patterning and markings made up of dark lines, which helps the tortoise camouflage amongst rocks in their natural environment. The plastron (bottom of the shell) is a mix of pale yellow and light brown, along with the rest of their body including legs, head and tail. 

Where do Pancake tortoises come from?

Pancake Tortoise’s are an African species native to Tanzania, Southern Kenya and new populations have also been introduced to Zimbabwe as well as Zambia. On the ICUN Red List Pancakes Tortoises are currently listed as a Critically Endangered due to years of over exploitation. Now all available Pancakes within the pet trade legally require CITIES paperwork, that should be passed on to the new owners upon sale of purchase.

How do I keep a Pancake Tortoise?

Due to their natural habitat and way of life Pancake Tortoise’s need to be kept different to other species such as Horsfield’s or Hermann Tortoise’s. As they are such good climbers and they require hot temperatures, Pancake Tortoise’s are best kept in a wooden vivarium. Wooden vivarium’s are good insulators of heat and they’re more secure compared to a tortoise table as a Pancake tortoise would climb straight out. 
To heat the enclosure a deep heat projector, spot light or flood light would be best connected to a dimming thermostat to help with temperature control. A basking spot of 100F is what you should aim for and a cool area around 70-75F. This gradient will help with thermoregulation. If your house is relatively cold it may be best to add a ceramic bulb in the enclosure on a Mat stat to prevent the tortoise getting too cold at night.
All Tortoise’s require a UVB light to help with their bone and shell growth. An Arcadia T5 UVB Kit would be ideal as this can be screwed onto the top of the vivarium and it also has a built in reflector to reflect all the light downwards.
As they are so active a vivarium at least 4ft in length should be provided so they have plenty of room to wander around the enclosure. Be sure to provide them with plenty of decor such as cork bark to climb over as well as resin hides, caves or even rocks. When adding rocks into the enclosure be sure to make sure they are secure and will not fall on top of your tortoise.
For substrate we highly recommend Prorep Tortoise Life as this blend has been specifically developed for arid species and will allow them to express natural behaviours. Alternatively you can use moss peat or coco fibre mixed with desert sand or other sand based substrates.
When it comes to feeding, Pancake Tortoise’s prefer fresh and dried out grasses and flowers, and occasionally fruit as a treat. Komodo edible bedding has a great mix of dried out grasses and flowers and can be scattered around the enclosure to encourage foraging. Other dry foods such as Zoomed Grassland pellets and Arcadia Flower boost can also be offered. Fresh grass, dandelion leaves and flowers, carrots and squash can also be fed to Pancake Tortoise’s. Its best to supplement all fresh foods with Calcium powder around four times a week as well as a Vitamin powder twice a week.
For water, a tortoise pool would be ideal. Depending how big the tortoise is will determine the size of the pool needed. 
If cared for correctly Pancake Tortoise’s can live for 35 years+. 
Do your research
Before you commit to buying any pet, please do your own independent research.