PAncake Tortoise (Malacochelone tornieri)


Female  "Mahogony" Female  "Flying Brit"


The pancake tortoise is unique among tortoises in having a thin flat, flexible shell. This enables them to squeeze in-between layers of rocky outcroppings to avoid predators. They are excellent climbers for a tortoise and surprisingly fast movers. Their shells vary in background color from horn-colored to chocolate to jet black marked by contrasting radiating lines, reminiscent of  the Star tortoises only "busier". Their bellies are often similarly marked in a somewhat more subdued pattern.  Adult size is a very modest 5-6" for males, slightly larger for females.    

Their care is very straight forward. They prefer a ground temperature in the mid to upper 80's with a basking area that reaches into the mid 90's F.  They do not normally experience cool temperatures in their homeland of Tanzania and Kenya, so avoid exposing them to temperatures much below 70F for any extended period of time. They also do very poorly if exposed to damp conditions for any length of time. Keep their cage warm and dry at all times.  We prefer Aspen shaving as their bedding as it is easy to keep clean and less likely for them to accidently ingest. Being crevice dwellers, they prefer some low hides in which to hangout when not feeding.  We use plastic planks stacked about 5" apart for them to crawl into.  Another oddity of this species is that they tend to be social, living in loose colonies in the wild.  Thus they do very well in mixed sexed groups in herpetoculture as well. 

Their diet is the typical leafy greens and grasses. We primarily offer "Spring Mix" greens as the base diet to which we add higher roughage greens such as Endive, collards and Bok Choy leaves. Courser greens yet such as dandelions and plantain are excellent as well. Keep the greens off the bedding by placing it in a very shallow saucer or on top of a large ceramic tile. The greens are slightly dampened and then dusted alternately with either Miner-ALL calcium/ mineral dust with Vit D3 or Repashy SuperVeggie dust. Slightly moistened Mazuri tortoise pellets round out the diet. We offer water through small "Chick" waters to enable them easy access to drink yet prevents them from defecating in their water.   


 We have been trying to build a small breeding group the past few years and currently have 3 small groups consisting mostly of 1.2 adolescents. A few of our longer term girls should be ready to breed this year so hopefully we'll have a shot at producing our first CB Pancakes in 2015. Odds are further importation of these may not be an option but if possible we'll offer a few acclimated field collected individuals when available. Please contact us to get on our "Wanted" list if you're looking to work with this interesting species.  


We ship based on the prevailing weather patterns between us and you. Usually we can ship most weeks, but when large storms/severe heat or cold are forecasted, we prefer to hold off.   Please see  "Deer Fern Farms Ordering / Prices" for ordering information.


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Copyright 1992-2015 by  Douglas Dix. All rights reserved for all photos and text