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Elongated Tortoise (Yellow Headed Tortoise)

The Elongated tortoise is a tortoise that is neither too large nor aggressive and can make a great pet tortoise.

Also known as the Yellow-Headed Tortoise, these Asian tortoises can make excellent pets as long as you are prepared to meet their high heat and humidity needs all year round.

These can really make fantastic first-time pets since they have a slow growth rate and don’t get too large, yet they are hardy creatures. They aren’t too hard to care for and are quite underrated in the tortoise community, in our opinion.

If you are thinking about getting one as a pet and are looking for information on how to care for one, look no further. We have got the article for you right here so keep reading on.

Elongated Tortoise Facts

  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Scientific Name: Indotestudo elongata
  • Alternate Name(s): Yellow Headed Tortoise
  • Family: Testudinidae
  • Size: 12 inches
  • Weight: 7 lbs
  • Diet: Omnivorous
  • Lifespan: 40 to 50 years
  • Where to buy: Tortoisetown.com, CBreptile.com

Quick Facts About Elongated Tortoises

  • You will find that the nails on the back feet of females will be longer and curvier than their male counterparts. This may be an adaptation made to help nesting females dig nests.
  • Their large eyes allow them to adapt well to low lighting, meaning they are most active during both dusk and dawn.

Elongated Tortoise Appearance

Elongated-Tortoise
Elongated Tortoise on white background

The Elongated Tortoise is also known as the Yellow-headed Tortoise for a reason. This is due to their narrow, 12-inch, caramel, or dark yellow carapace. Their shells may also have dark brown patterns or blotches that burn throughout their scutes.

Males will have a narrower body than their female counterparts.

The females will be rounder and wider, sporting shorter tails. Females will also have longer, more curved back nails and a concaved, flat plastron, which is said to be an adaptation of nest-making.

Their heads are usually a pale yellow, and their limbs might be a tan, dull yellow-grey, or grey color. Their front limbs will feature large scales whereas their hind legs will not.

When breeding season comes around, both the males and females will show a pinkish coloring around their eyes and nostrils.

The Elongated Tortoise size is one of the main reasons people like to keep them. They never grow too big, coming around to about 12 inches in length and weighing in at about 7 pounds.

Elongated Tortoise Location and Natural Habitat

Elongated tortoise walking in sand and looking towards camera
Elongated tortoise walking in sand and looking towards camera

Elongated tortoises are native to both South and Southeast Asia. They can be found in Northeast India, Bangladesh, Laos, Cambodia, The Malaysian Peninsula, Thailand, and especially in Nepal.

They dwell in tropical, damp forests or any densely vegetated area but can sometimes be spotted in drier areas. They like warm, tropical weather all year round.

They cannot swim well, but love to sit in leaf litter as well as large tropical plant bases. They really like to hide undercover or buried under leaves, which is where they find their comfort.

Elongated Tortoise Diet

Elongated tortoises are technically omnivores that choose to eat primarily plant-based. In the wild, they will actually scavenge for insects, carrions, and slugs actively.

They are forest floor dwellers that will mostly focus on eating plant-based foods and will eat carrion if they can find one. This means they lean more towards a plant-based diet, but are technically omnivores.

They also enjoy dandelions, flowers, leaves, and fruit.

Elongated Tortoise Lifespan

Elongated or yellow headed tortoise (indotestudo elongata) in tropical southeast asia
Elongated or yellow headed tortoise (indotestudo elongata) in tropical southeast asia

When under proper care and husbandry, these tortoises can live up to 50 years of age.

While it will depend on how much they are fed and whether or not they got enough rest during the winter, the different sexes will show interest in breeding at different times.

Males will sexually mature within roughly 4 years, whereas their female counterparts may take around 6 to 8 years to show interest in mating.

Elongated Tortoise Breeding Habits

Speaking of mating, let’s talk about Elongated Tortoise breeding habits.

The breeding season occurs throughout autumn and summer.

The males may start to exhibit aggressive sexual behavior, bumping against the female quite violently and vocalizing loudly. He may also bite around her head, neck, and hind legs.

The longer, more curved hind claws of the female help them make a flask-shaped nest for laying the eggs in. They prefer to take the time to search for soft, damp soil to build their nest and lay their eggs in.

Once she lays her eggs of about 3 clutches, it will take a period of 6 months for them to hatch. 

Female Elongated Tortoises may lay eggs every breeding season when they are in captivity.

Predators of the Elongated Tortoise

The Elongated Tortoise is an endangered species experiencing a major decrease in population. Their common predators include humans, crocodilians, jaguars, or other omnivorous pet animals.

The species are also still in huge demand in food markets, even to this day, which has led to the development of several laws for their protection.

Elongated Tortoise Legality

Check with your Department of Natural Resources or US Fish and Wildlife Services to double-check that there are no state-specific regulations that outlaw tortoise ownership.

They may have it listed on their website for your state or you might need to give them a call but you should find out the legal species for your specific location since it really is on a state-by-state basis.

In most cases, it is not illegal to own a tortoise, but some species may require permits to cross state lines.

It seems none of the commonly available non-native ones have any restrictions at all so any legal prohibitions would be on a state or local level.

 If you wish to sell them across state lines, the recipient needs to have a “Captive Bred Wildlife” permit, which is not difficult to get.

Where to Buy Elongated Tortoises

There are many places online and reputable sites where you can find captive-bred Elongated tortoise for sale.

The reason why you want captive-bred or commercial tortoises is due to the ability to choose your tortoises, the fact that your species choices won’t be limited to local or native species, you’re not involving in the depletion of the wild population, and captive-bred tortoises will already be acclimated to captivity.

Check out Tortoisetown.com and CBreptile.com which have Elongated Tortoises for sale and are both captive bred sellers.

If you are wondering about the Elongated Tortoise price range, it may be anywhere from $200 to $300 to purchase one. But that price doesn’t include their needs, enclosure, food, and other things you will need to buy in order to care for them!

Elongated Tortoise Care

Elongated tortoise on ground in tortoise pen
Elongated tortoise on ground in tortoise pen

Enclosure

We should just say it here now; you will not be able to get the correct conditions for this tortoise with an open-air enclosure. You need something that has a lid or is closed off in order to keep the humidity they need to survive.

They come from warm, humid climates and you need to try your best to replicate that in their enclosure.

If you are hoping to keep them indoors, you will want an enclosure that is at least 4 by 6 inches. It is also important to let them out to explore a bit as well since they do like roaming around.

As always, this is just a recommended size for a minimum amount of space. It’s always better to go bigger, giving them as much space as you can possibly give your tortoise.

Generally, they prefer outdoor enclosures with lots of space, especially when they are hatchlings. It is the most suitable way to care for them and they can find natural leaf covers for themselves or shade to hide under.

If you live in a place that is too cold, a vivarium should do fine as long as you keep your numbers in check and day temperatures around 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cleaning

Their waste should be removed regularly, at least daily if there is any to remove.

Change their drinking and soaking water often.

Remove any dead insects or animals from inside their enclosure if they happen to slip in.

If you are feeding them commercial tortoise food, make sure you take the time to change it and replenish it if it is uneaten after a while to avoid molding.

Substrate

They really love leaf litter and just leaves in general, so you will want to scatter some around for them.

For your indoor vivarium, give them a mixture of one-fourth sand and three-fourths peat moss for a substrate.

Temperature

These guys live in areas that have lows of 60 degrees Fahrenheit and heat as high as 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Sixty degrees is their absolute limit, so if you live in a climate that goes below this, you will need to make sure to keep them warm.

You must provide them with fresh water at all times that you are replenishing and changing daily or when needed.

You can keep your ambient temperature around 75 degrees during the day then about 70 degrees Fahrenheit for their night drop.

They will need a basking point of about 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit at some part of their enclosure.

Humidity

This species will need at least 60 to 80 percent humidity in their enclosure.

In most cases, you will need to mist their vivarium once or twice daily.

You will want to keep an eye on their humidity with a gauge since it is crucial to their growth and overall health.

Lighting

It is essential to provide appropriate UVB lighting while keeping them in a vivarium to promote the production of Vitamin D, which they will synthesize to properly process calcium, which is very essential to their growth.

Tortoise UVB / UVA Light 10.0 Repti Sun By Zoo Med or any 10.0 tube fluorescent reptile bulb should be sufficient for your tortoise’s basking point.

They will also need some heat lamps for a warmer spot in their enclosure so make sure to install those as well.

Accessories

Since these guys like moist areas, you will want to provide them with a shallow water dish or bathing pool so that they can soak as long and as much as they need.

They like lying under the base of large plants, so if you have an outdoor enclosure for your Elongated Tortoise, you might want to add some here and there for them to utilize.

Feeding

Elongated or yellow headed tortoise (indotestudo elongata) in enclosure
Elongated or yellow headed tortoise (indotestudo elongata) in enclosure

These omnivorous tortoises will mainly eat vegetation, but appreciate a bit of protein in their diet as well.

Replicating their natural diet of vegetables and fruit with the weekly carrion might help lengthen their lives while making them feel right at home.

It is very important to their growth and care that they receive a well-balanced variety.

When in captivity, these tortoises aren’t too hard to feed and will readily consume anything you provide.

Here is an Elongated Tortoise food list that we’ve put together:

Elongated Tortoise Food Chart

4 to 6 TIMES WEEKLY

Staple Foods

Staple foods should make up 80 percent of their diet. Offer them food about 4 to 6 times and adjust according to your tortoise’s appetite and age. Give them these staple foods with every feeding:

Leafy Vegetables

  • Natural grasses
  • True leaf lettuce
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Endive
  • Escarole
  • Tip Leaf Lettuce

Vegetables

  • Shredded carrots
  • Yellow Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumbers

You can also feed them commercial forest-dwelling tortoise food.

You should be providing them with fresh drinking water at all times.

Variety Foods

Variety foods should make up about 10 percent of your tortoise’s diet. Offer a couple of these in small quantities with staple foods:

Vegetables

  • Sweet Potato
  • Green beans
  • Peas
  • Edible Mushrooms and fungi
  • Bell Peppers

Fruits

  • Figs
  • Tomato
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Cantaloupe
  • Mango
  • Watermelon
  • Pear
  • Cantaloupe
  • Papaya
  • Grapes

Flowers or Plants

  • Dandelions
  • Foliage or flowers of fruit trees
  • Hibiscus
  • Prickly pear (no spines)
  • Palm leaf
  • Alfalfa
  • Clover
  • Plantain

ONCE OR TWICE WEEKLY

This should only make up about 5 to 10 percent of their diet. 

Protein

  • Earthworms
  • Thawed mice
  • Crickets

Supplements

  • Multi-vitamin supplement: Once weekly
  • Calcium powder: Twice a week
  • Vitamin D3 supplement (if indoors): Once weekly
  • Cuttlefish bone: Replenish weekly

OCCASIONAL SNACKS

By ‘occasional’, we mean once a month or less and only a single piece.

  • Strawberry
  • Legumes or Beans
  • Soaked Monkey Biscuits
  • Canned cat or dog food

FOODS TO AVOID

You should not give your Enlongated Tortoise these foods ever:

  • Avoid citrus.
  • Cabbage and Chinese cabbage should be VERY limited if not given to them at all due to gas production.

Now, here’s just a cute video of a bunch of Elongated Tortoises eating greens:

We thought you’d enjoy it as much as we did!

Temperament

These tortoises are known to be friendly and even more particularly so once they familiarize themselves with their owners. They might even try to come over and beg you for food or some physical affection every once in a while.

Handling

These tortoises don’t seem to be too skittish and acclimate well to life with humans. They do seem to like physical affection and can tolerate handling quite well.

However, most tortoises do not actually enjoy being carried although they will tolerate it for some food. They also like the warmth of our bodies against them sometimes, or so it’s been said!

Elongated Tortoise FAQ

Elongated-Tortoise-on-rock
Elongated Tortoise on rock

Where is the Elongated Tortoise found?

The Elongated Tortoise can be found in tropical, damp forests or any densely vegetated areas of South and Southeast Asia. They like to hide under leaves and large plants.

How big do Elongated Tortoises get?

The Elongated Tortoise size is one of the main reasons people like to keep them. They never grow too big, coming around to about 12 inches in length and weighing in at about 7 pounds.

How long do Elongated Tortoises live?

When under proper care and husbandry, these tortoises can live up to 50 years of age.

What does the Elongated Tortoise eat?

In the wild, they enjoy an omnivorous diet of mainly vegetation and fruit with the weekly carrion or two. In captivity, they feed on leafy greens, herbs, flowers, leaves, and all kinds of vegetables, a smaller portion of fruits, and a weekly earthworm or two!

Conclusion

The Elongated Tortoise can be a really fun pet to have around and are relatively easy to feed and care for.

All you have to do is make sure you are keeping their temperatures and humidity in check and you’ll have a great, perfectly-sized family pet.

They like to roam around and are quite active, willing to explore your home and backyard if given the chance.

If you’re thinking about getting this wonderful tortoise as a pet, we hope that this article helped you in preparing for the proper care for these guys as well as convinced you that they’re the coolest!

Leave a comment below or go ahead and ask us any questions you might have about the Elongated Tortoise. We love to hear from you and we are open to anything you might be still wondering about.

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sfj

Wednesday 8th of May 2019

when was it discovered and when was it put on the endangered species list?

Sammy

Friday 12th of April 2019

how big do they get and how long do they live

AllTurtles

Saturday 13th of April 2019

Great question! Thanks for asking. I have updated the article with the following info.

As adults they get to around 30 cm (12 inches) long and 3.5 kg (7 pounds). Females tend to be wider than males and more rounded. Age wise they get to around 50 years old.

r

Thursday 14th of March 2019

There should be more about there adaptations