The flat-tailed tortoise is the most range-restricted of all Madagscan spider tortoises, occupying an area less than 500 km2.
This species has a distinctly flat tail and has been the subject of high demand for the international pet trade, despite adapting poorly to captive conditions.
The flat-tailed tortoise is one of only two species in the genus Pyxis. Together, these two tortoises diverged from all other living species almost 40 million years ago, long before humans had diverged from what are now baboons and mandrills!
Unfortunately, this species has lost more than 70% of its habitat in a three generation period, which has led to a population decline of at least 60% and a further reduction of 30% anticipated. As such, this species is listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List.
Since being uplisted to CITES Appendix I, legal trade of the species appears to have stopped and the population may have stabilised. The tortoise has national protection in Madagascar and occurs in three sites with protection. This species has also been the focus of captive conservation breeding efforts.
- Order: Testudines
- Family: Testudinidae
- Population: <10,000
- Trend: decreasing
- Size: 14.8cm (?)
This species is found in Madagascar, in the Menabe region.
Habitat and Ecology
This species lives in forests living amongst the leaf litter on the floor. They burrow and are inactive in leaf litter during the dry season, but become active in the wet season. They feed on fallen fruits, fungi and fallen flowers.