Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Western Bell's Hinge-Back Tortoise

(Kinixys belliana nogueyi)

Habitat and Distribution: Found in dry savannas, grasslands and coastal forests of West Africa

Size: 6-9 inches long

Wild Diet: Leaves, grasses, sedges, fallen fruits, fungi, millipedes, snails, carrion, and insects such as beetles and millipedes

Predators: Monitor lizards, raptors, hornbills and hyenas

Lifespan: 25-50 years

Reproduction: Female western Bell’s hinge-back tortoises lay 2-5 eggs at a time. Hinges are not present at birth, but will develop as the hatchlings mature.

Behavior: Western Bell’s hinge-back tortoises are active during the dry season and can burrow underground or in mud at the bottom of drying waterholes. Males are territorial and will battle intruders; one male was seen ramming a leopard tortoise twice its size hard enough to flip it over—twice!

Conservation

IUCN Status: Not Evaluated

Many tortoise populations are exploited for the pet trade and hunted for meat and traditional medicine. Right now, Western Bell’s hinge-back tortoises are not classified as threatened, but that could change if trading is not controlled.

Did you know?

  • Members of the genus Kinxys are the only tortoises with a hinged carapace. The hinge allows them to withdraw their head further into their shell than most other tortoises and to close the rear of their shell over their back legs and tail. They seal the front of their shell with their front legs.
  • The Western Bell's hinge-back tortoise is different from other subspecies of Bell's hinge-back tortoise because it has 4 toes on each front foot (instead of 5).