The Egyptian tortoise is one of the world’s smallest tortoises – the smallest in the northern hemisphere. Females tend to be slightly larger than males but usually with shorter tails.
Egyptian tortoises are herbivores, feeding on a combination of rough grasses, plants and fruits which grow in the arid conditions where the tortoise is found in the wild.
This species is found in scrub forest, semi-desert and desert in Libya and Egypt, Africa. The tortoise is adapted to survive in the driest of habitats with some areas receiving less than 50mm of rain per year. Its small size allows it to heat up rapidly in the sun, whilst its pale dull yellow colour reduces the amount of heat absorbed from the sun.
The Egyptian tortoise is one of the world's most endangered tortoises and thought to be near extinction in Egypt. The two main threats facing it are habitat destruction and the illegal pet trade.
This species is now classified as Critically Endangered.
A population of Egyptian tortoises has been maintained at Bristol Zoo as part of a European Zoo-wide (EAZA) breeding programme (EEP).
In the wild, the tortoises are most active during the warm periods of the year. However, in the highest temperatures and heat of the day they tend to take cover under bushes or in rodent burrows.
You can find our Egyptian tortoises in the Reptile House, near Twilight World and the Aquarium
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