The Madagascar Radiated Tortoise (Astrochelys Radiata)

comes from Madagascar. Its natural habitat is in the south and south-west of Madagascar, areas with considerable aridity and vegetation largely consisting of steppe thorn. They also live in areas of low but thick vegetation and those in which overgrazing resulted in a predominance of opuntia. Consequently, 80 percent of its food consists of grasses, fruit and succulents.

It is assumed that the natural populations live between the river Onilahy (south of Tulear to the river Mandrare) and the town of Antaritarika (east of Cape Saint Marie) in a 100 km long coastal strip. The main habitat is on the Mahafaly and Karimbola plateaus.

Further to its natural habitat the species is also kept on the islands of Mauritius and Reunion. It is largely vegetarian but enjoys the occasional slug or earthworm. A. Radiata is particularly active in the early morning and late afternoon. As soon as the clock marches towards 6 pm it puts itself to bed.
With a maximum of 22 kg A. Radiata is the largest tortoise with a radiating or star pattern. Unlike G.Elegans and G.Platynota, the A.Radiata males are considerably bigger than the females. This is probably due to the fact that the male Madagascar Radiating Tortoise, and also the male A. Yniphora, has to fight for its place in the hierarchy to win the attention of females. The larger and stronger the male, the higher his chances of reproduction.

A.Radiata is a beautiful, very robust and strong tortoise with a high domed shell and particularly strong forelegs. The males use their breastplate during comment fighting and also to prevent the female from escaping during mating. On occasion a male can even use his breastplate to turn a female over on her back to intimidate her and to prevent her from running away. The mating ritual of the radiating tortoise is therefore more like a rape than a harmonious encounter.

Sexual maturity is reached very late at around 12-25 years.  On the other hand, they can reach an age of 150 years!

One special characteristic of A. Radiata is their walk. They can push themselves up to 8 cm above the ground. To do this, they straighten their legs and walk as if on stilts. This walk is  used in particular during the mating and the rainy seasons.