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The Indian star tortoise is a type of tortoise native to India, though it may also be found in other parts of Asia. The name likely comes from the yellow star shaped designs that cover the outer shell. These tortoises are popular as pets, but can only be purchased if they have been born in hatcheries, because Indian star tortoises that live in the wild are considered a protected species.
The size of the Indian star tortoise can vary somewhat, but females are much larger than males. Occasionally, the females may grow to 15 inches (38 cm) in length, but more commonly a mature female is about 8 inches (20 cm) long. In most cases, males only grow to be about 5 inches (12.7 cm) in length.
In the wild, Indian star tortoises graze on grasses that grow on arid plains. They also eat some types of succulent plants such as prickly pears and thistles. When kept in captivity, they should be fed similarly, with diets rich in coarse fiber. Some pet food stores carry feed specifically designed for these tortoises. In their natural habitat, the Indian star tortoise can go long periods without water, however, those in captivity need a steady supply of fresh water for both drinking and bathing.
The mating season for the Indian star tortoise coincides with monsoon season, which typically occurs during the summer months of June through early September. After mating, it takes about three months for the female to lay her eggs. When it is time for the eggs to be laid, the female Indian star digs a hole for her eggs, so they can be kept safe from predators. It generally takes about 120 days for the eggs to hatch.
Some of the health problems common to Indian star tortoises include allergies and respiratory and kidney infections. They have somewhat weakened immune systems and are likely to catch illnesses from other animals if they share living quarters. If these tortoises are kept as pets, it is a good idea to keep them separated from other animals. With proper care, the Indian star can live as long as 80 years.
Indian star tortoises are extremely shy, and do not like to be handled by humans. For this reason, they may not be a good pet for children. It is also recommended that care and feeding of the pet Indian star be handled by a single individual, because over time, the tortoise will become responsive to a handler with whom it has regular contact.
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