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Common Padloper Tortoise (sp Homopus)( & speckled padloper). The
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Homopus signatus cafer
Size This tortoise species is regarded as one of the smallest terrestrial tortoises in the world and could easily fit into the palm of one's hand. Females, which are larger than males, reach 95 mm carapace length, while males grow to approximately 80 mm. Shell height for females is around 40 mm, while males reach 30 mm. Females (140 g) weigh up to twice as heavy as males (70 g).
Common Padloper, Parrot-beaked tortoise
Size: The common padloper is another small padloper species endemic to South Africa. Females may reach a carapace length of 120 mm, shell height of 60 mm and could weigh up to 300 g. Males, which are smaller than females, grow to approximately 100 mm in length, 50 mm in height and may weigh up to 140 g.
Southern speckled padloper
Homopus signatus cafer
Size: This tortoise species is regarded as one of the smallest terrestrial tortoises in the world and could easily fit into the palm of one’s hand. Females, which are larger than males, reach 95 mm carapace length, while males grow to approximately 80 mm. Shell height for females is around 40 mm, while males reach 30 mm. Females (140 g) weigh up to twice as heavy as males (70 g).
In a part of 1999 and 2000, I have worked on setting up a field project on the Namaqualand speckled padloper (Homopus s. signatus), a small South African tortoise species reaching a carapace length of approximately 10 cm.
Natural history: These five species are endemic to southern Africa - occurring mainly in the Cape and adjacent regions. Only the speckled and common padlopers adapt well to captivity as their diets are not highly specialized. Many are taken from their natural habitat each year, and subsequently die as a result. They cannot readily adapt to captive diets and climatic change.
The most important barrier for the long-term survival of Homopus is the current lack of knowledge on these tortoises. Without basic information on their distribution, population size and dynamics, and ecology, it is impossible to determine their conservation requirements, and to develop conservation strategies if necessary. Therefore, the Homopus Research Foundation focuses on research on Homopus, both in captivity and in the wild. In the past years, a number of initiatives were launched, most of which are long-term commitments.
Diet of the Namaqualand speckled padloper, Homopus signatus signatus, in early spring
VICTOR J. T. LOEHR Homopus Research Foundation, Nipkowplein 24, 3402 EC IJsselstein, Netherlands
Abstract.—A baseline determination of the early spring (August - September) diet of the Namaqualand speckled padloper (Homopus signatus signatus) was accomplished using in situ observation and faecal analysis methods. I analysed 13 focal observations and 49 faecal samples. Tortoises fed on a broad variety of plant species, possibly supplemented with a few insects. Important food items appeared to be Oxalis spp., Leysera tenella, Grielum humifusum and Crassula thunbergiana minutiflora. Crassula t. minutiflora may be a potential source of water as it is a succulent. Flowers were present in 96% of the faecal samples and may be an effect of the study period. Almost all faecal samples contained nematodes and their eggs, sometimes in huge quantities, but the effect on the tortoise population is not known. Since only 50 - 60% of the faecal volume could be identified, care must be taken in deriving conclusions from this study. I recommend that future dietary studies of H. s. signatus emphasise focal observations, include pollen analysis, and determine food availability in different seasons to identify preferences and temporal shifts.