Did You Know? 17 Incredible Angulate Tortoise Facts

Angulate tortoise facts for kids are educational!

The angulate or bowsprit tortoise, Chersina angulata, is a species of tortoise endemic to southern Africa and is one of the few monotypic genera to exist in the world. The tortoises are medium-sized in nature and portray sexual dimorphism, i.e. the males are larger than the females and vice versa in other cases.

Males fight for dominance with each other during the breeding period for the right to mate with females, hence, creating a dominant hierarchy in the small community they form during the mating season.

These tortoises are one of the most common species found in pet stores and in the wild in South Africa and other southern regions on the African continent. These tortoises are found in abundance in these regions and are protected under laws that prevent the sale without proper paperwork and permissions. These laws have helped in keeping their numbers at a stable rate in the environment and keep these animals away from coming close to endangerment or vulnerability.

If you like these true facts about the angulate tortoise, then you'll surely like these facts about elongated tortoise facts and gopher tortoise facts, too.

Angulate Tortoise

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Snails and smaller insects

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

1-7 eggs

How much do they weigh?

28-32.5 oz (800-920 g)

How long are they?

7-10 in (18-25 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Dull yellow to brown

Skin Type

Dry scales

What are their main threats?

Mongoose, badgers, jackals, birds, human interference

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Coastal scrub, karoo range, fynbos range


Southern Africa





Scientific Name

Chersina angulata





Angulate Tortoise Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an angulate tortoise?

The angulate tortoise (Chersina angulata), also known as the bowsprit tortoise, is a tortoise species endemic to the southern African regions of southern Namibia and South Africa. Angulate tortoises are the lone species of the genus Chersina. The angulate tortoise due to being the sole species of the Chersina genus is monotypic in nature and shares some similarities to its closest relative, the speckled cape tortoise which shares the same natural habitats in southern Africa regions.

What class of animal does an angulate tortoise belong to?

The angulate tortoise (Chersina angulata) species are wild specimens of tortoises that belong to the Reptilia family. Reptiles are tetrapod vertebrates, i.e. creatures with four limbs with a hard shell in the case of tortoises and turtles. The Reptilia class of animals has four-limbed ancestors.

How many angulate tortoises are there in the world?

The exact population count of angulate tortoises is tough to state because these animals are commonly found in their natural habitats in the wild and are among the many species of tortoises that are taken from their natural habitat and sold in the pet trade. As of now, the angulate tortoises are listed as a species of Least Concern on the IUCN Red List as their population is stable in the wild and due to them being used in the pet trade, they go through controlled breeding which has helped in their conservation in southern Africa and other parts of the world.

Where does an angulate tortoise live?

The angulate tortoise (Chersina angulata) is among the various tortoise species that prefer a semi-arid habitat in the wild and can be found among other animal specimens that live in sandy regions with abundant sunlight and low-lying shrubbery for shade. The angulate tortoise is endemic to southern Africa with a vast distribution of its population within the regions of South Africa.

The distribution of these tortoises extends marginally into the southwestern parts of Namibia in South Africa as the species occurs from East London in the Eastern Cape Province and continues westward through the Western Cape Province and into the western parts of the Northern Cape Province. In Namibia, the range of the angulate tortoise extends across the Orange River where it is found in the Sperrgebiet National Park and surrounding as far north in the villages of Aus and Luderitz. Angulate tortoises are also found on the coastal grounds on several offshore islands. Angulates reach high population densities in the Dassen and Robben Islands off the southwestern coast of South Africa.

What is an angulate tortoise's habitat?

The angulate tortoise (Chersina angulata) species can be found in areas with vast food sources such as vegetation ground or coastal regions in mesic thickets in the east. These tortoises live in isolated areas with vast inland populations preferable in moist habitats that experience high rainfall for the scrub and other habitable plants and shrubs to grow properly in the areas these angulate tortoise frequent. These animals are easily found in various regions of Namibia and South Africa.

Who do angulate tortoises live with?

Adult angulate tortoises are solitary in nature and will come in contact with another adult during the mating season. During the mating season, it is often the male angulate tortoises that will engage first with the females. Under normal circumstances, angulates prefer to stay hidden with their head tucked inside their shell and are commonly found under vegetation, or in holes in the ground.

How long does an angulate tortoise live?

The angulate tortoise (Chersina angulata) has a lifespan of around 30 years in the wild. Some specimens under study have crossed the 30-year mark with proper conservation efforts. The lifespan of the angulate tortoise in captivity is almost the same 30 years for both males and females.

How do they reproduce?

The sexual maturity for the males and the females is at their peak when they reach 10-12 years of age. The breeding season lasts from September to April, in which the males often fight on another for the females. These fights can often be fierce, as the males try to flip over one another or try to damage the other males by attacking their gular shield. In some cases, the gular shield is broken and the damage can be lethal in some cases. The males who win the duel get the right to mate with the females.

The courtship process involves the males in pursuit of the females by nudging and head bobbing. If the female is receptive, the male will mount her by gripping the carapace of the female.

After copulation, the male will inseminate the female and the female will store the sperm for extended periods before using it for fertilization. Incubation of the eggs is usually done only by the females and the incubation period is between 90-200 days, depending on the season.

What is their conservation status?

Currently, the angulate tortoise is listed as a species of Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. These tortoises are under special protection in South Africa as there are prohibitions on them being imported into or exported from the Western Cape Province without special permission in the form of a permit. Angulate tortoises are also under protection in Namibia.

Angulate Tortoise Fun Facts

What do angulate tortoises look like?

Angulate tortoises have a shell that is elongated with no hinges. The carapace of these tortoises has five vertebrates and four paired costals. The plastron (shell underneath) is large and protruding. The front and hind limbs have four to five claws, respectively.

The angulate tortoise (Chersina angulata) species exhibits sexual dimorphism, in this case, the males are larger than the females and have a larger carapace, and have extra body mass.

The angulate tortoise has a color pattern of light yellow with a dark, broad triangle with light-colored areolae and the costal is dark-brown to black. In some regions, the carapace has an orange to red tint, which explains their Afrikaans name 'rooipens' which translates to a 'red-bellied tortoise'.

Facts and information about angulate tortoise are interesting!

How cute are they?

The angulate or bowsprit tortoise is an absolutely adorable animal! Like other pet tortoises or turtles, this species too exhibit shy behavior and will revert back into its shell when it notices prying eyes or dangerous approaches. The slow walk and shy nature of this tortoise make it cute and adorable.

How do they communicate?

Much like other species of tortoises, the angulate tortoise uses visual and vocal clues and smells to communicate with each other. They also communicate through touch by bumping into things or by feeling things with their legs.

How big is an angulate tortoise?

The angulate tortoise size is relative to the sex as these species are sexually dimorphic in nature with the males being larger than the females. A fully grown adult angulate grows 7-10 in (18-25 cm) in length. This makes them significantly smaller than the African spurred tortoise.

How fast can an angulate tortoise move?

The angulate tortoise (Chersina angulata) is a slow mover and takes its time moving around. The exact speed of their movement is tough to state as there is a data deficiency on this topic.

How much does an angulate tortoise weigh?

An adult angulate tortoise weighs around 28-32.5 oz (800-920 g) full grown.

What are the male and female names of the species?

The angulate tortoise (Chersina angulata) has no particular name has been assigned to either sex.  

What would you call a baby angulate tortoise?

Baby angulate tortoises are called hatchlings. At birth, hatchlings weigh around 0.2-0.4 oz (8-12 g).

What do they eat?

A large part of the diet of the bowsprit tortoise consists of plants, grasses, berries, or fruits. They also eat small insects occasionally. Contrary to popular beliefs, this tortoise can be fed jade plant but in a small amount.

Are they dangerous?

No, these animals are harmless in nature and are docile towards humans and other animals. However, do be sure not to get your hands too close to them while you give them food as they might bite your fingers!

Would they make a good pet?

Yes! A bowsprit tortoise can be a great pet to have. These animals are on the expensive side and cost between $1,500-$2,500 for an individual.

A bowsprit tortoise can be kept as a single pair or with a male and multiple females and should be allowed to roam around in a spacious yet safe enclosure. Providing rocks and dirt to their enclosure helps to recreate their wildlife habitats. A sandy and sunny spot should be provided for them to bask, where they will spend most of the time. Avoid humidity in the enclosure as this tortoise needs a dry environment. Angulate tortoise care is easy so make sure you give them plenty of food and good care for them to grow healthy.

Did you know...

The angulate tortoise (Chersina angulata) is also known as 'rooipens' in the Afrikaans language, which translates to 'red-bellied tortoise'.

A group of tortoises is called a creep.

The shell of a tortoise is sensitive to touch, so they do feel all the rubs you give them!

The angulate tortoise (Chersina angulata) is a nature's seed dispensing machine as it eats large amounts of plants and defecates the undamaged seeds in bushes or shrubs which gives the seeds a better germination chance.

The Aldabra giant tortoise, similar in size to the Galapagos tortoise, is considered to be the largest tortoise with a shell as big as 48 in (122 cm) in length and weighs 551 lb (250 kg) on average.

Are angulate tortoises endangered?

The bowsprit tortoise (Chersina angulata) is listed as a Least Concern species on the IUCN Red List, and hence, is not an endangered species. Although they are Least Concern according to IUCN, in many parts of South Africa and Namibia, they are protected by law that prohibits export or import without a permit. Laws and regulations like these have protected this tortoise for years and will continue to do so for years to come.

How many eggs do angulate tortoises lay?

After insemination, the angulate tortoise (Chersina angulata) females retain the sperm from the males and store it for extended periods before using it for fertilization. Nesting takes place from late summer to late spring. The rainfall and ambient temperature play a role in egg-laying as wet grounds are suitable for the eggs. Young mothers usually lay one large egg. Mature females lay six to seven eggs in a single clutch.  

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles from our Philippine cobra facts and Philippine crocodile facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Galapagos tortoise coloring pages.



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