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Star Tortoises (Geochelone elegans/platynota)

The Indian Star tortoise (Geochelone elegans) is native to India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan Star tortoise is a geographical variant of the Indian Star tortoise. It can be difficult to tell Indian and Sri Lankan Stars apart, unless you know what area they came from. As adults, Sri Lankan Stars tend to be larger. The Burmese Star tortoise (Geochelone platynota) is from Myanmar, formerly Burma. It is also called the Myanmar Star tortoise. Indian (incl. Sri Lankans) and Burmese Star tortoises are related, but they are separate species. Both species come from dry areas and require similar diet and care. Both Indian and Burmese Star tortoises have yellow shells with dark brown or black patterns, even though it looks like they are dark with yellow stripes.

During warm weather, an outdoor habitat supplying plenty of graze is best. The habitat should be secure from predators. The most important forms of graze are grasses, weeds, and Opuntia cacti. A variety of shrubs and wildflowers are good for shelter and food. Water should be available at all times for soaking and drinking if the tortoise chooses to do so. When maintained indoors, every effort should be made to supply a high fiber diet. Dandelion greens, mulberry leaves, grape leaves, Bermuda grass hay, and cactus pads are better choices than grocery store greens.

It is possible to keep several Star tortoises together in a large enclosure. Although individual personalities will differ, this is one species in which the males usually are not aggressive towards each other during the breeding season, and they are less aggressive towards females than other tortoise species. Star tortoises are very sensitive to environmental and social conditions. They are prone to respiratory infections when kept in non-optimal habitats, and they are extremely susceptible to foreign organisms carried by other species. Stars should never be mixed with another species.

Star tortoises do not hibernate so winter accommodations are necessary. Day time temperatures should be from 75 - 90 degrees. Night time temps should range from mid to low 70s. Normal basking temperature is 95 degrees and humidity at or under 40%.