African pancake tortoises are so named for their remarkably malleable shell, which allows them to wedge themselves between rocks so that no predator can pry them from their crevice-made-shelters. At the Seneca Park Zoo there are two African pancake tortoises, one male and one female. Both were born in 1983 and arrived at the Zoo in 1986.
Status in the Wild
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List status: Vulnerable. The African pancake tortoises are popular in the pet trade, which has made them considerably vulnerable in the wild. Habitat loss in Africa combined with a slow reproductive rate make this species’ recovery difficult.
These tortoises inhabit isolated locations in eastern Africa, from Kenya to Tanzania. The habitat they prefer is areas of small hills with rocky outcropping in arid thornbrush.
African pancake tortoises are strictly herbivorous. They eat dry grasses, fallen fruits and available vegetation.