Fun Padloper Tortoise Facts For Kids | Kidadl


Fun Padloper Tortoise Facts For Kids

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A padloper tortoise is a tiny, smallest tortoise species found in South Africa. It has two species namely, common padloper or parrot-beaked tortoise (Homopus areolatus), Namaqualand Speckled cape tortoise (Homopus signatus) and greater padloper or Karoo cape tortoise (Homopus femoralis). They prefer lowland habitat. It has Olive-green and brown coloration with black spots on its shell. Keeping these tiny turtles in captive is illegal in some countries. But a very proper care is required by them. They must never be kept among wild species like dogs and pigs. Speckled cape tortoise are difficult to care for but they adapt well under captivity than in the wild. They are herbivores and therefore they only feed on plants. Padloper tortoise captive diet includes lettuce, carrots, fruits, and calcium. They are in the Not Extinct category of IUCN Red List of endangered species. They are threatened by habitat destruction and wild animals. Its tiny size makes it vulnerable to scavengers.

If you enjoy reading about the padloper tortoise, do check out interesting facts about the radiated tortoise and giant tortoise.

Fun Padloper Tortoise Facts For Kids

What do they prey on?

Plant material

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

4-12 eggs

How much do they weigh?

0.3-0.7 lb (90-300 g)

How long are they?

2.4-3.9 in (6-10 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Olive-green, orange-brown

Skin Type

Soft, wet, shell

What were their main threats?


What is their conservation status?

Not Extinct

Where you'll find them?

Coastal Lowlands


South Africa









Padloper Tortoise Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a padloper tortoise?

The padloper tortoise is from genus Homopus of Testudinidae family.

What class of animal does a padloper tortoise belong to?

A padloper tortoise species is a type of tortoise from class Reptilia from family Testudinidae.

How many padloper tortoises are there in the world?

The exact population is unknown but the total number of Homopus seems to be quite in number as they are not extinct.

Where does a padloper tortoise live?

The Homopus is endemic to the region of South Africa. Padloper tortoises are found in the eastern and southern cape regions.

What is a padloper tortoise's habitat?

It prefers natural habitat like coastal lowlands with mild climate. They particularly despise arid conditions. As a captive specimens they adapt well.

Who do padloper tortoises live with?

Tortoises are solitary animals that roam alone. Mother tortoises can be protective of their nests, but after they hatch, they don't seem to care much for the young. A group of tortoises is called a creep.

How long does a padloper tortoise live?

There is no research available on the lifespan of padloper tortoises. But it has been observed that most tortoise species can live unto 80–150 years.

How do they reproduce?

When speckled padloper tortoise full grown in size, it reaches maturity. Mating takes place at any time except during hibernation. They are most active early in the morning especially in the breeding season of autumn and spring. After separation from a male, females can store sperm and lay fertile eggs for several years. In general, males mate with females several times before finally letting them go. Approximately 30 eggs can be fertilized from one single mating. Like a chicken egg, the eggshells are much smaller and spherical. Those tortoises who lack access to a nesting area won't lay eggs.  For laying eggs, tortoises find a spot with bright sunshine and well-drained soil. It starts digging a hole and lays the eggs. The padloper tortoise egg size is 1.2 in (3 cm). She covers the eggs after laying them with soil, fills up the nest, and flattens it using her plastron. Then, leaves them to incubate naturally in the soil temperature. The hatchlings break out of the shell with a tongue. The yolk sac provides nutrition even after hatching. The hatchlings are about the size of silver dollars.

What is their conservation status?

The speckled padloper tortoises (Homopus signatus) have been added as the Not Extinct under the IUCN Red List of endangered species.

Padloper Tortoise Fun Facts 

What do padloper tortoises look like?

The speckled cape tortoise species (Homopus signatus) is a smallest tortoise and olive-green and brown are some of its typical colorations. It has only four toes on both its front and hind feet, like its larger relative, the greater padloper, and unlike the other padlopers. Females are longer than males. There are large raised areolae on the shields, and they are outlined with a thin black serrated edge. Their heads are distinctive, and their tails are slightly longer than those of the females. Unlike females, males have larger heads, larger beaks, and a more pointed snout. When the breeding season begins, dominant males' noses also become orange or red in color. Males tend to be uniformly orange or light brown in color and black spots. A male's belly is also lighter color, although it lacks the concavity of other tortoises' plaster surfaces

The male speckled tortoise is smaller than the female speckled tortoise.


How cute are they?

The speckled cape padloper tortoise species is cute, charming, and adorable. Homopus signatus is the species known as the world's smallest tortoise. As they spiral around on a constant searching for food, their pinkie nail–sized heads swivel around in your palm. The hatchlings are tiny and crawl over on claws to crowd around your hand when you approach a tank full of them, eager to get some lettuce or fruit.

How do they communicate?

There are many differences between speckled tortoise species communication and other reptiles' communication. Due to their shells and short limbs, tortoises have limited opportunities for visual communication. The sex of other tortoises can be determined by olfactory cues, which allows them to find a potential mate. When tortoises fight or court, they communicate with their tactile senses. The speckled tortoise species uses ramming to communicate with each other in both combat and courtship.

How big is a padloper tortoise?

The padloper tortoise length ranges from 2.4-4.3 in (6-11 cm). The speckled padloper tortoise size is 2.4-3.9 in (6-10 cm). Whereas the common padloper tortoise (Homopus signatus) is 4.33 in (110 cm) in straight carapace length. Generally female padloper tortoise size is larger than the male.

How fast can a padloper tortoise move?

The speckled padloper tortoise adult species is slow and walks at the average speed of 0.1-0.3 mph (0.2-0.5 kph). The fastest recorded speed of a tortoise is 0.6 mph (1 kph).

How much does a padloper tortoise weigh?

The average weight of speckled padloper tortoise (Homopus signatus) is 0.2-0.4 lb (95-165 g). The common padloper weighs around 0.3-0.7 lb (140-300 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male and female species doesn't have doesn't have any particular name. They are simply referred to as male speckled cape tortoise and female speckled cape tortoise.

What would you call a baby padloper tortoise?

The baby padloper tortoise is called a hatchling.

What do they eat?

The spectacled padloper tortoise species (Homopus signatus) feed on mostly plants. When under captivity, captive diets like grass-fed cucumbers, carrots, butternuts, pumpkins, diced tomatoes, lettuce, courgettes, and fruit.

Are they dangerous?

No, they are not dangerous at all.

Would they make a good pet?

Yes, speckled padloper tortoise care needs proper attention. They are kept as a pet in many homes. In few countries it is illegal to keep cape tortoises as a pet. They are cute, quite and not like any regular pet. Some are active, docile and shy in nature. Two adult males should never be kept together otherwise they become aggressive. Same goes with the adult female. They can be held on hand but it is advisable to not do that often as it makes them stressful. The feeding must be done in the early morning along with some supplements like calcium and proper diet. A natural habitat and secure enclosure does not deter them from escaping due to their excellent climbing skills. Enclosures must be as large as possible and placed in a sunny, dry location. Make sure speckled cape (Homopus signatus) have rocks for shelter, sheltered places to hide, and places to bask. The wire mesh covering enclosures should prevent potential predators from entering, including birds. Before buying check the nearest shops available with the speckled padloper tortoise for sale and take guidance from the caretaker. A speckled cape tortoise species (Homopus signatus) is a difficult animal to keep. Almost no captive tortoises survive, as their diet and environment are constantly changing. Although the cape-speckled padloper tortoise do well in captivity when properly cared for, they are known to thrive when bred in captivity.

Did you know...

The keratin in the scales of a padloper speckled tortoise outer shell is the same as in the nails of a human. This protects against damage, infection, and injury.

A group of tortoises is called a creep.

A spotted padloper tortoise, just like all reptiles, uses the roof of its mouth to smell.

How did the padloper tortoise get its name and what other names does it have?

The word padloper comes from southern Africa which means path-walkers because they make tiny paths through vegetation. Therefore, they are also known as cape tortoises in other parts of the world.

How does a padloper tortoise protect itself?

The habitat of speckled cape tortoises is being destroyed, they are being driven down the road, they are being overgrazed in the wild, and they are being poached for the pet trade. Since the tiny size of speckled tortoise, it is vulnerable to scavengers. Introducing domestic dogs and pigs to the ecosystem also poses a threat. The claws and legs of tortoises are strong, making them capable of digging well into the ground and creating burrows that protect them from both predators and the effects of extreme temperatures. In response to changing weather conditions or predators, a tortoise may dig several burrows in its territory.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these African spurred tortoise facts and map turtle facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable tortoise coloring pages.

Main image and second image by Abu Shawka.

Written By
Kidadl Team

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