Indian Star Tortoise (Geochelone elegans)

 "Ninja" (female) "Hourglass" (female)


Indian Stars are one of the most striking tortoises reasonably available to the typical tortoise enthusiast. They vary in size and to some degree color depending on which part of their home range they originated from. Those from northern Indian and Sri Lanka tend to be the largest individuals with males reaching  8 inches and females up to 15inches. Those from southern Indian mature at closer to 5 to 6" for males, and 7 to 8" for females.  Northern Indian stars tend to have more chocolate colored backgrounds to their shells while those from southern Indian and Sri Lanka tend more towards black. The closely related Burmese Star tortoise (G. platynota) is similar in appearance to the Sri Lankins and southern Indians but grows much larger. They can be easily differentiated from Burmese by two traits.  First, the rays of the Burmese stars often link up perfectly with one another and these rays always originate from the center of each scute.  No new rays are added as the shell grows. Indian and Sri Lankin's rays may or may not join up and a few new partial rays tend to arise at random as the shell grows.  Secondly, the belly of Indian Stars also sport distinct rays similar to those on the carapace.  Burmese Stars have much plainer bellies that resemble blocks of black and cream rather than radiating stars.  


 "Pineapple" (male) Pineapples belly pattern


Their care is very similar to the other tortoises we work we. A 40 gallon "Critter Keeper" aquarium  will reasonably house a single Indian Star through adulthood. They like a dry cage with a background surface temperature in the mid to upper 80's and a basking site in the mid 90'sF. We use a very shallow layer of Aspen shavings for the bedding and provide a low overhead shelter with a deeper layer of shavings under it for them to sleep under. During the summer we periodically lightly dampen their sleeping area but keep the rest of the pen completely dry.  While they can take relatively cool temperatures (down into the 60's and even 50'sF briefly) during their winter slowdown, stay above 70F to 75F for their normal temperatures.

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 free of any bedding by placing it in a very shallow saucer or on top of a large slab of ceramic tile. The greens are slightly dampened and then dusted alternately with Repashy Calcium Plus mineral supplement with Vit D3 and Repashy SuperVeggie dust. Slightly moistened Mazuri tortoise pellets round out the diet. We add a few fresh quartered raw carrots each week to help keep their beaks trim. We offer water through small "Chick" waters to enable them easy access to drink yet prevents them from defecating in their water.     

 At present we have 3 separate small breeding groups of the Southern Indian race composed of  two males and 3 near adult or adult females each. We selected for individuals with deep black backgrounds and star patterns where the rays tend to match up as cleanly as possible. We produced our first hatchling in 2013 and last year saw 3 females finally laying eggs.  2015 is off to a good start with 5 clutches already in the incubator as of early Feb. We should have hatchlings again for $295 each and hope to have a few imported ranched 4" specimens later in the year as well (maybe in the $575 range for males but prices vary too much to predict just yet). If you're looking for a hatchling please e-mail us and  get on our waiting list as we usually sell out.     

A good book to get you started on the path to keeping Star tortoises is "Star Tortoises" by Jerry Fife, available through his website at:


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