Egyptian tortoise (Testudo kleinmanni)

Egyptian Tortoise

Inside Cold Blooded Corner at Fur, Feather & Scales.

Fast facts

Status Critically Endangered

Size 8-12cm long. Females tend to be bigger than males.

Weight 160-350g. Females tend to be heavier than males.

Gestation 12-16 weeks

Young 1-5

Life span Around 50 years

What do I eat?

Not a lot is known about the diet of Egyptian tortoises in the wild, but it is thought that they eat seasonal plants such as leaves, grasses, fruits, flowers and even cacti.

At Marwell we feed our Egyptian tortoises grass, weeds and flowers which we cultivate ourselves.

Where do I live?

These animals live in the desert, but are also found in semi-desert areas, dry woodlands and brushy areas of scrub.

Once found across Egypt, Libya and Israel, Egyptian tortoises are now mainly found in two regions in Libya (Tripolitania and Cyrenaica).


Breeding season is in early spring - courtship involves the male head butting and crashing into the female before mating. During mating the males are known to make distinctive loud purring-type sounds, which are different to other closely related tortoise species.

The female will dig out a nest in sandy ground, usually underneath a bush or a burrow, and will lay up to 5 eggs. The eggs hatch in summer or early autumn and the young tortoises will only eat a small amount of food, preferring to rest in the shade instead. Egyptian tortoises are mature by around 5 years old.


Brown-necked ravens feed on both young and adult tortoises.

To stay safe, Egyptian tortoises will use their colourings to stay hidden underneath bushes and vegetation, especially during the hottest times of the day.


The Egyptian tortoise faces a very uncertain future as it is threatened by loss of habitat through farming and human encroachment. These animals are also being illegally trapped to be sold through the pet trade.

Egyptian tortoises are protected by law in Egypt but not in Libya, which makes monitoring their numbers and stopping the trade in this species difficult. If the trade of Egyptian tortoises is not monitored or banned and their habitat is not protected, sadly there is a real possibility that they may face extinction in the next 20 years.

Did you know?

Egyptian Tortoise is one of the world's smallest and most endangered species of tortoise.

Being so small means that the Egyptian tortoise can warm up very quickly when outside in the sun and their pale yellow colouring slows down the amount of heat that can be absorbed from the sun.

Very little is known about the Egyptian tortoise, it is still being researched in captivity and in the wild.


Check our ticket prices or...

Book tickets online

Group Visits

As a group of senior citizens it was great to have the road train available

As a group of senior citizens it was great to have the road train available as it made it possible to visit different parts of the zoo which they wouldn't have managed on foot. The new lemur loop was a highlight for me, actually being in with the animals was magical.… Read full reviewCaroline - U3A Wokingham, 27th October 2017