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Reptiles found in the Kruger – Spekes hinged tortoise

By November 26, 2015No Comments
Spekes hinged tortoise
Spekes hinged tortoise.
Within Africa a large diversity of tortoises are found; from the African spurred tortoise who is the third largest tortoise in the world, to the rather speedy (for a tortoise) and decent climbing, leopard tortoise, among many more.

In Southern Africa, the family of hinged tortoises are divided into four subspecies, all of which belong to the genus known as Kinixys. The use of the word ‘hinged’ is a result of their ability to close the hinged rear part of their carapace (back part of shell).

The spekes hinged tortoise is medium sized, with a patterned shell made up of light and dark patches or rings, and their colours range from light yellowish through to shades of brown. Their shells have their own set of nerve endings, allowing them to feel every rub, touch or scratch.

Spekes hinged tortoise
The hinge. 
Their hinges develop at about 2 years old, appearing towards the back of their shells and above their hind legs. Used for protective measures; when closed downwards it protects their back legs and tails.
Habitat

They are found living in savannahs and rocky areas with dry bushes, in central and Eastern Africa, from Zimbabwe to the North Western and Northern provinces of South Africa, and along the coastal plains of Mozambique through to Swaziland.
Behaviour

Tortoises prefer to live their existences alone, only meeting up to mate, and do not bond or form groups. A happy tortoise is an active tortoise; unhappy or stressed tortoises tend to not make much movement.

They pick up scents using their vomeronasal organ, located on the roof of their mouths, by pumping their throats to circulate air through their nose and mouth.
When needing to withdraw in their protective shell they have to empty their lungs first, so when startled they are often heard exhaling loudly and quickly.
Diet

Spekes hinged tortoises are mostly active during rain and in the evening time, which is somewhat unique amongst tortoises.

These tortoises are omnivores and eat a varied diet of leaves, small flowers, grass, succulents, fungi, fruit, mushrooms, snails, beetles and millipedes.
Reproduction

The mating game between tortoises involves the male nudging, pushing or moving the female and if she doesn’t walk away, mating will follow. Males are the noisier of the two, making groaning hisses during a mating session.

A female will open up her hinged and well-developed posterior in order to lay her eggs. She will lay a small clutch of between 2 to 6 eggs, usually after the rain from late afternoon into the night.
Spekes hinged tortoise
Spekes hinged tortoise. 
Did you know?

Spekes hinged tortoises are named after the British explorer who discovered the source of the Nile River, Captain John Hanning Speke.

Their predators include the secretary bird and monitor lizards.

A group of tortoises are called a creep.