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Indian Star Tortoise (Geochelone Elegans) - Information and Basic Pet Care

Updated on March 21, 2015
lady rain profile image

Lady Rain works as a daytime stock trader and writes about crafts and hobbies. She likes travelling and making papercraft models.

Indian Star Tortoise
Indian Star Tortoise | Source

The Indian Star Tortoise is one of the most beautiful tortoises. The scientific name of the Indian Star Tortoise is Geochelone Elegans. It is called Star Tortoise because of the yellow and black star radiating pattern on its shell. The tortoise is a native to India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. This tortoise has been a favourite among tortoise pet owners since more than 30 years ago.

Male vs Female

The male tortoise can grow up to 20 cm. The female tend to be larger, growing up to 30 cm and weighing up to 7kg. Female tortoises also have shorter tails. The lifespan of the star tortoise can be anywhere from 30 to 80 years depending on its habitat and nutrition. Indian star tortoises are not territorial, the males and females can co-exist without much aggression.


If you are lucky enough to own an Indian star tortoise as a pet, you will find that it has a shy personality. Once it gets to know you, it will be more outgoing when it recognises you. This tortoise is not aggressive so you would not get your finger bitten off if you handle it.


In the wild, the star tortoise can be found in forests, shrublands and semi-desert areas which have day temperatures ranging from 27º to 30º C. It likes warm and humid conditions, and it is most active during the day. The Indian star tortoise does not hibernate, it is just less active when the surrounding area is very hot or very cold. When kept indoors, it is important to provide dry substrate and a water bowl as it likes to sit in the water quite frequently.


The diet of this tortoise is mainly vegetarian and herbivorous. In the wild, it eats plants, grasses, flowers, berries and fruits. It also has an appetite for cactus plants. Those tortoises kept in captivity are usually fed with supplements like calcium and multivitamins in addition to the vegetarian food.


Star tortoises that are available as pets are bred in captivity and they usually live longer than those that are in the wild. The natural population of the star tortoise is declining rapidly in the wild due to illegal collecting. The tortoise has also been eaten by the locals in the area and this has caused the Indian star tortoise to become one of the most endangered tortoises in the world.

A pair of Indian Star Tortoises
A pair of Indian Star Tortoises | Source

Lucky Tortoise

It is a popular myth that keeping a tortoise or turtle at home will bring good luck and plenty of wealth. So remember, treat your tortoise well and it will return you that lucky favour!

Basic Tortoise Care

Pet tortoises can be kept indoors or outdoors. A pair of baby star tortoises requires an enclosure of at least 2 feet by 1 foot. The sides of the enclosure should be at least twice the total height of all the tortoises. A tortoise is capable of climbing onto another tortoise's back and then climbing over the walls!

The tortoises' enclosure should be lined with a dry substrate like wood shavings, grass clippings or newspapers. These tortoises are from a tropical environment so they should not be left to freeze in their new home. The tortoises prefer temperatures between 23°C to 32°C. If the tortoises are housed indoors, they should be brought outside to catch some sunlight once in a while.

Your pets prefer a clean environment, their enclosure needs to be kept clean at all times. They like to soak themselves and defecate in their drinking water so make sure their dish of drinking water is changed daily. Their diet includes a continuous supply of fresh vegetables. A variety of vegetables is essential to maintain a healthy growth for your pets.

Indian star tortoise feeding time

Chinese King Quails
Chinese King Quails | Source

© 2011 lady rain


Submit a Comment
  • profile image


    7 years ago

    Really very informative..............

    but I think tht it is illegal to pet a tortoise........

    But i 1 star totoise

  • lady rain profile imageAUTHOR

    lady rain 

    8 years ago from Australia

    Some tortoises bred in captivity are allowed to be sold as pets, depending on the breed. Some countries require tortoise owners to apply for a licence and there is also a quota on how many tortoises can be kept by each person.

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    That's really informative, but it is not illegal to pet tortoise, as you said they one of endangered spieces


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