Speckled Padloper Tortoise Fact Sheet

Common Name:

Speckled Padloper Tortoise / Speckled Tortoise / Speckled Cape Tortoise

Scientific Name:

Homopus signatus

Wild Status:



Arid regions on rocky outcrops


South Africa


Rocky outcrops, dry grass clumps

Life Span:

Exact numbers unknown, but long life expected


2 - 3 inches, females slightly larger

Cool Facts:

  • Originally it was believed that the Speckled Padloper consisted of 2 different species, however further genetic study has not supported this separation and they are now considered a single species.
  • Females make a nest of eggs in between rocks in damp soil, and the hatchlings will emerge after roughly 100 - 120 days.
  • Like other tortoises, the Speckled Padloper is an herbivore and feeds on the leaves and flowers of various plants in the area.
  • Holds the distinction of being the world's smallest tortoise.
  • The speckles on their shells help them have a a bit of camouflage in the rocky areas they inhabit.


The Speckled Padloper Tortoise is the smallest species of tortoise on the planet, and a species endemic to South Africa. These tortoises are most active early in the morning, and are naturally found in an area of South Africa called Namaqualand. Birds of prey are the most common predators of the Speckled Padloper, however their small size helps them survive by squeezing in and hiding between crevices of their rocky homeland. The "Padloper" in their name means "trail walker", referencing the various trails and paths near where they are found in the wild.

Taxonomic Breakdown:

Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Reptilia Order: Testudines Suborder: Cryptodira Family: Testudinidae Genus: Homopus Species: H. signatus

Conservation & Helping:

Currently the Speckled Padloper Tortoise is Vulnerable on the endangered species list. The main threats to the species are poaching for the pet trade, habitat destruction, and traffic on nearby roads. This species does not adapt well to change in environment and captive diets, so many that are taken from their habitat die shortly after.

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