ISSN 2398-2985  

Indian star tortoise


Vetstream Ltd

Kirsty Dewhurst

Synonym(s): Geochelone elegans


Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia.
  • Phylum: Chordata.
  • Class: Reptilia.
  • Order: Testudines.
  • Suborder: Cryptodira.
  • Family: Testudinidae.
  • Genus: Geochelone.
  • Species: elegans.

Distribution and habitat

  • Ranges from India to Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
  • Many specimens of this species are found in the illegal wildlife trade in India.
  • Found in semi-arid climates, and sometimes in regions with a higher level of precipitation.
  • These tortoises do not hibernate, and are very active during the day, especially during rainy seasons.

Species status

  • Listed under the IUCN as vulnerable, mainly due to its popularity in the pet trade.
  • They also suffer from habitat loss in the wild.

Life span

  • In captivity, 25 years or more with proper care.
  • In the wild, 35-80 years when their habitat is not destroyed and they are left to thrive.


  • Mostly herbivorous.
  • Main food sources include grasses, fallen fruit, leaves of succulent plants and flowers, and they will occasionally eat carrion Chelonia nutrition.


  • In the wild, males have been observed to reach sexual maturity at around 6-8 years of age, and females at 7-12 years Chelonia reproduction.
  • In captivity, these tortoises may become sexually mature at an earlier age.
  • Mating begins with the coming of the monsoon, so breeding time is dependent on the area.
  • The female can lay up to 9 clutches.
  • Each clutch carries around 1-10 eggs.
  • Can be difficult to breed in captivity.

As pets

  • Very popular in the pet trade based on their size, personality and appearance.
  • Preferred setup for adults is outdoors so they get as much natural sunlight as possible. However, an indoor enclosure may be required if the climate is too cold.
  • Hatchling should be raised inside, protecting them from predators and allowing correct temperature control.
  • They should not be fed on high protein vegetables and definitely not meat products. They should be fed a calcium rich diet, providing higher levels of calcium than of phosphorous.
  • Supplements may be required to reach this optimum. Always follow manufacturers guidelines when giving supplements.
  • Can be fed grasses, greens, vegetables, fruits.
  • Should be handled infrequently and may be shy. They can be difficult to care for in captivity.
  • Should not be mixed with other species; they can be very susceptible to infectious diseases.

Biological Data

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Further Reading


Refereed papers

Other sources of information

  • Reptiles magazine (2018) Indian Star Tortoise Care Sheet. Website: Last accessed 30th January 2018.
  • Wikipedia (2018) Indian Star Tortoise. Website: Last accessed 30th January 2018.
  • A-Z Animals (2017) Indian Star Tortoise. Website: Last accessed 30th January 2018.
  • The Spruce (2017) Indian Star Tortoises. Website: Last accessed 30th January 2018.
  • Star Tortoises (2017) Indian Star Tortoises. Website: Last accessed 30th January 2018.
  • Tortoise Trust (2017) Indian Star Tortoises. Website: Last accessed 30th January.
  • D'Cruze N, Choudhury B C & Mookerjee A (2016) Geochelone elegans (errata version published in 2017). In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Website: Last accessed 16th July 2018.
  • Bouchard K (2009) Geochelone elegans. Website: Last accessed 16th July 2018.

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