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For tortoise, terrapin and turtle care and conservation

THE HORSFIELD TORTOISE (Testudo (Agrionemys*) horsfieldi)


HABITAT: In areas with hot summers

SUBSPECIES: Two subspecies are recognised:

1. The Central Asian Tortoise (Testudo horsfieldi horsfieldi)

RANGE: Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan to western Xinjiang, China

2. The Kazakhstan Tortoise (Testudo horsfieldi kazakhstanica)

RANGE : Kazakhstan and Turkmeniya (A third one, the Kopet-Dag Tortoise (T.h.rustamovi) from the Kopet-Dag mountain region is not officially recognised.)

(*Subgenus Agrionemys: Now considered invalid because of hybridization in captivity with the Hermann's Tortoise.)

FEATURES: The Horsfield or Afghan Tortoise looks rather like the Hermann's Tortoise, but is rounder and smaller. The colour is from dull ochre to black; it has a horny pin at the end of the tail in addition to small spurs on the thighs.On the continent it is known as the "Fourtoed Tortoise" because of the four toes on every foot. The animal is an excellent climber and digger. It hibernates during the cold winter months and aestivates during the hottest summer weather, usually in tunnels dug out in the ground. The male has a peculiar mating display of head bobbing. Eggs hatch in 75-82 days.

CARE AND FEEDING: In captivity the animals are successful foragers, eating anything from dandelions and plantains on the lawn to plants in the herbaceous borders. Although not strictly a Mediterranean species, captive care is similar. See the Care of Mediterranean Tortoises care sheet.