Meet one of the world's most endangered tortoises

One of the most threatened tortoise species on the planet, the radiated tortoise faces habitat loss, hunting, and poaching for the illegal pet trade. Like most tortoises, they live for a long time – the oldest ever radiated tortoise is believed to have lived to 188 years old, but biologists believe they may live even longer! In warmer weather, you can see our radiated tortoises up close in the paddock outside the Reptile and Amphibian House.

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Animal facts

Key facts about the radiated tortoise

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I'm found in Madagascar

Radiated tortoises live in the dry forests and scrublands of southern Madagascar.

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I'm a herbivore

Radiated tortoises feed mostly on grass, along with some fruit and succulent plants.

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I get my name from my shell markings

Radiated tortoises have yellow lines that radiate out from the centre of each section of shell in a star-like pattern.


oldest on record


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An uncertain future for the radiated tortoise

Over the last two decades, the radiated tortoise population is thought to have declined by up to 80%. Habitat loss, deforestation, hunting and poaching all threaten the future of the species. Many of Madagascar’s precious forests have been cleared to make space for agriculture and cattle grazing, leaving radiated tortoises with less than half of their habitat. Humans pose the greatest threat to the future of this species, with populations devastated by hunting for domestic consumption and poaching for the illegal wildlife trade. Although there are protected areas, they are not patrolled adequately and resources are insufficient to deter poachers.

In August 2005, an international meeting of experts produced an alarming prediction – that without immediate action, viable populations would become extinct within 45 years. The radiated tortoise is protected by Malagasy law and by CITES, and there are dedicated rescue centres in Madagascar caring for and releasing confiscated tortoises.

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Meet our radiated tortoises

At Jersey Zoo, we have kept radiated tortoises since 1976, when four males and two females arrived from Madagascar. Since then, our radiated tortoises have helped raise awareness on the plight of the species. They are also closely related to the critically endangered ploughshare tortoise, so act as a model species for us to learn important husbandry techniques that we can share with our colleagues in Madagascar to help save another tortoise on the brink of extinction.

Help us care for our radiated tortoises