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Chaco Tortoise

The Chaco tortoise (Geochelone chilensis) is a seemingly rare species of tortoise found in captivity. This tortoise takes its name from the Chaco regions of Argentina and Paraguay where their range extends from Bolivia east to Paraguay and into parts of Argentina. Bioligists are still trying to sort out the different subspecies in Chaco Tortoises. Some researchers divide the G. chilensis into three species: G. chilensis, G. petersi, and G. donosobarrosi. Being the closest living relative to the Galapagos tortoises (Geochleone nigra) , Chaco Tortoises are the smallest tortoise in the Genus Geochelone. These tortoises are a medium size tortoise ranging from 6 - 10 inches. The carapace may be either totally yellowish brown or have dark-brown to black growth rings surrounding a tan center on each scute. The rim of the shell is slightly serrated and may have dark wedges of pigment at the back edge of each scute. The plastron may be uniformly yellowish-brown or have a dark triangular wedge along the seams of each scute. The head, limbs and tail are greyish to yellowish-brown. Chaco Tortoises reach sexual maturity around 12 years of age. Females grow larger then males and are able to lay up to three clutches of one to seven eggs each season. Incubation lasts from  12 to 16 months. A natural diapause in egg incubation occurs in the wild and also works well for captive environments or artificial incubation.

Chaco’s  natural habitat and diet is very similar to Gopherus Tortoises. Captive specimens are fairly easy to maintain and care for. These tortoise do hibernate and estavate during the winter and summer , making them more active during the spring and fall months. Chaco’s are able to create burrows for them to feel secure in and do well in dry, hot climates for this reason. Diet should consist of a wide variety of different grasses, succulents , plants, flowers, and greens such as dandelion, plantain, and clover. Fruits and vegetables can be offered sparingly as well as commercial tortoise foods. Cuttle bones and a constant water source should always be present in the captive Chaco's enclosure. Outdoor enclosures should be heavily planted, this will provide multiple foods sources for them as well as secured resting areas for them to take advantage of. Chaco Tortoises are very impressive with great personalities. Tortoise caretaker being able to maintain this species should strive their best to raise them properly for future reproduction of captive specimens.