The Spider Tortoise (Pyxis arachnoides) is a reptile in the Testudinidae family. It is named after the pattern on its shell.
The Spider Tortoise has a web-like pattern of yellow lines on its dark-brown carapace (upper shell). It has a dark head with yellow spots. It has a yellow, semi-hinged underbelly – the under shell is called a plastron. It pulls its head into its shell for protection. Its legs and tail are brown.
It grows to about 17 centimetres (7 inches) long. The male is slightly smaller than the female. The male has a longer, thicker tail than the female.
It is endemic to Madagascar. It prefers spiny vegetation in sandy, coastal areas. It hides under vegetation. It is most active in the wet season. During the dry season, it aestivates, which means that it undergoes a period of dormancy, similar to hibernation.
It feeds on leaves, insect larvae, and animal manure.
The female lays only one egg, which hatches after 220-250 days.
The Spider Tortoise lives, on average, for 70 years.
Location of photographs: Parc Zoologique de Paris in Bois de Vincennes, France
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM