The spider tortoise is a small and attractive tortoise endemic to southwestern Madagascar. Sadly, populations have been in precipitous decline due to habitat loss, collection for the international pet trade and for consumption.
The spider 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, the spider tortoise had lost more than 40% of suitable habitat by 2000 and this loss is only accelerating due to increased fragmentation. This beautiful species is also exploited for trade, as it is collected for food nationally and even for their livers, which are exported to Asia.
This species is nationally protected under Malagasy law and is listed on CITES Appendix I. It occurs in two protected areas and is the subject of ex situ conservation breeding in Madagascar.
- Order: Testudines
- Family: Testudinidae
- Population: Unknown
- Trend: decreasing
- Size: 20cm (?)
This species is found in southwestern Madagascar, from the coast up to 10-50km inland.
Habitat and Ecology
This species is found in Mikea forest habitat in the north and in other spiny forests. They are known to eat young leaves and cow dung with insect larvae. They reach sexual maturity around 12 years of age and can live up to 70 years.