Facts about Speckled Tortoise. "Scientific name for Homopus signatus". This tortoise is usually the smallest of all worlds extant tortoise and is also known as the speckled padloper or the speckled cape tortoise. The Speckled Tortoise belongs to the genus Homopus and is native to southern parts of Namibia and South Africa. The Speckled tortoise is typically restricted to small regions in Namaqualand and the arid habitats in the western parts of South Africa. In its natural habitats, the species lives on tiny succulent plantations found in between the rock outcrops.
The Speckled tortoise can grow to maximum lengths approximately 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.6 cm) in males while the females experiences larger growth rates measuring up to about 4 inches (10 cm) in length. The Speckled Tortoise has a flattened brown to orange colored shell with serrated edges and covered in numerous black spot coloration. A distinguishable character between the males and the female species is that the male species usually has a distinctive concave belly.
The Speckled tortoise can be differentiated from the rest of other species by it’s the number of toes on its fore feet and speckles. The Speckled Tortoise displays a maximum of five toes on the fore feet unlike other species which have four toes on all the four feet.
Most of the tortoise species are often taken from their wild habitats to be kept in captivity. However, the Speckled Tortoise usually find it hard to tolerate the captivity conditions including the rapid change in habitat conditions and diet when taking from the wild. In captivity, the Speckled Tortoise, is often highly specialized in order to enhance its survival. It is important to note that the tortoise requires several needs including favorable humidity, nutrition and husbandry. In captivity, the Speckled Tortoise can feed on thinly sliced cucumber, grated pumpkin, courgettes, butternut, carrots, diced tomatoes and some fruits like paw-paws.
It is important to note that the Speckled Tortoise requires to be fed early in the morning, removing any left over food materials before lunch hours. In addition, mineral supplements require to be added to the Speckled Tortoise food materials each week. However, the enclosure requires to be kept dry throughout. Some of the Speckled Tortoise will hide by creating shallow burrows in the sand and can remain in hiding for long periods of time. The Speckled Tortoise often becomes passive during winter periods. However, it becomes aggressive and active in spring and tends to eat and drink too much. In captivity, the water levels require to be maintained at the height of the tortoise plastron in order to encourage the intake of water.
The Speckled tortoise likes to bask in the sun for long hours. However during winter periods, the heat from the sun may not be strong enough to warm the body. A heater or lamp of temperatures between 77 to 86 f (25 to 30 degrees Celsius) can be used to help the tortoise to attain the body warmth capacity.
The Speckled tortoise is often threatened by habitat destruction's, poaching and traffic on busy roads. The Speckled Tortoise has been registered in the non-commercial studbooks in Namibia and South Africa thereby making its hunting activities to be illegal.