Speckled tortoise

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Speckled padloper tortoise)
Jump to: navigation, search
Speckled tortoise
Speckled Padloper - Homopus Signatus 1.jpg
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Superfamily: Testudinoidea
Family: Testudinidae
Genus: Homopus
Species: H. signatus
Binomial name
Homopus signatus
Schoepff, 1801
Homopus signatus signatus
  • Testudo signata Walbaum, 1782
  • Testudo signata Gmelin, 1789
  • Chersine signata Merrem, 1820
  • Testudo juvencella Daudin, 1831 (nomen nudum)
  • Testudo juvencella Daudin, 1831
  • Homopus signatus Duméril & Bibron, 1835
  • Pseudomopus signatus Hewitt, 1931
  • Pseudomopus [signatus] signatus Hewitt, 1935
  • Chersobius signatus Hewitt, 1937
  • Homopus signata Williams, 1952
  • Homopus signatus signatus Mertens & Wermuth, 1955
Homopus signatus cafer
  • Testudo cafra Daudin, 1801
  • Pseudomopus signatus peersi Hewitt, 1935
  • Homopus signatus peersi Mertens & Wermuth, 1955
  • Chersobius peersi Archer, 1968
  • Homopus signatus cafra Bour, 1988
  • Homopus signatus cafer Boycott & Bourquin, 1988
  • Homopus signatus cafer Branch, 1988

The speckled tortoise[1][3][4] (Homopus signatus), known locally as the speckled padloper,[5] and also known internationally as the speckled cape tortoise,[1][6] is the world's smallest tortoise. A member of the genus Homopus, it is endemic to South Africa[5][7] and Southern Namibia.[2]

Distribution and subspecies[edit]

Homopus signatus is naturally restricted to a small area in Little Namaqualand, an arid region in the west of South Africa. Here it normally lives on rocky outcrops, where it forages among the rocks for the tiny succulent plants it eats.

Two main subspecies have been asserted to exist, although these were declared synonymous in 2007.[5]

  • The Namaqualand speckled padloper (Homopus signatus signatus) in the north part of South Africa near the Namibian border and in south Namibia.[2]
  • The southern speckled padloper (Homopus signatus cafer, previously H. s. peersi) in the south, closer to Cape Town.


Mating Speckled padlopers, in captivity in the Prague Zoo.

The males measure 6–8 centimetres (2.4–3.1 in), while the larger females measure up to almost 10 centimetres (3.9 in);[8] they weigh about 95–165 grams (3.4–5.8 oz). This species has a flattened shell with slightly serrated edges. The orange-brown shell is covered in hundreds of black spots. The males have a noticeably concave belly.

This tiny tortoise can be distinguished from the other Homopus species by its speckles, and by five toes on its forefeet (unlike many of its relatives, which have four toes, on all four feet).[9]

Threats and conservation[edit]

The species is threatened by traffic on roads, habitat destruction and poaching for the pet trade.[citation needed] As the trade in collected Homopus species is strictly illegal and any captive specimens are systematically registered in non-commercial studbooks in South Africa and Namibia, any commercial sale of Homopus tortoises is almost without exception strictly illegal.[citation needed] Another threat comes from introduced species, such as domestic dogs and pigs.[citation needed]

Many are taken from their natural habitat each year, and nearly all subsequently die as a result, as they do not readily adapt to typical captive diets and climatic change. Unlike most other Homopus species however, their diet (while very varied) is not highly specialized. Therefore the species can adapt well to captivity, provided that proper attention is paid to temperature, dryness and a sufficiently varied diet. They can in fact be very hardy in captivity, and most problems with captive care are caused by faulty nutrition, high humidity, dampness or bad husbandry.[10][11][12]


  1. ^ a b c W. R. Branch (2012). "Homopus signatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved June 30, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Fritz Uwe; Peter Havaš (2007). "Checklist of Chelonians of the World". Vertebrate Zoology 57 (2): 283. ISSN 18640-5755. Archived from the original on 2010-12-17. Retrieved 29 May 2012. 
  3. ^ Obst, J., K. Richter, and U. Jacob (1988). The Completely Illustrated Atlas of Reptiles and Amphibians for the Terrarium, T.F.H. press.
  4. ^ The Herpetology Sourcebook, Reptile & Amphibian Magazine, 1996-1997.
  5. ^ a b c Homopus Research Foundation web site (accessed August 24, 2013).
  6. ^ IUCN Appendix 1. Regional Species Lists
  7. ^ Save Our Tortoises, CapeNature web site.
  8. ^ Branch, B. (1998). Field Guide to Snakes and other Reptiles of Southern Africa. 3d edition. Struik Publishers. ISBN 1-86872-040-3
  9. ^ Baard, E.H.W. (1994). Cape Tortoises: Their identification and care. Cape Nature Conservation.
  10. ^ Corton, M., Homopus (Padloper Tortoise) Care, World Chelonian Trust (retrieved August 20, 2013).
  11. ^ Loehr, V., "Namaqualand Speckled Padloper (Homopus s. signatus)", World Chelonian Trust (retrieved August 20, 2013).
  12. ^ Palmer, M., "The Speckled Tortoise, Homopus signatus, in Captivity", Tortuga Gazette 30(6): 1–5, June 1994.