Desert Tortoise's Flat Shell Back

by Don

My wife has a CA. desert tortoise approximately 3- 4 years old. My dad lives in the desert and has a male and female which hatch about 10 babies a year. When we received her baby it was about a year old. It is kept in the house and to my knowledge has never hibernated. It eats quite well and seems to be okay except for one concern. The tortoise's back of the shell is not domed but rather more flat. This flat area is in the center of the shell. I asked my dad about this and he said it must be a female since it isn't domed like a male's. He said this is how they're able to mate. It makes sense to me but maybe you can "shed more light" on this concern so that my wife will stop worrying about it. I wish I had a digital camera so I could send you an image.

Comments for Desert Tortoise's Flat Shell Back

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Jul 25, 2011
Shell shape
by: Shelly

It's the bottom shell, the plastron, that is concave (dented in) on a male so it can mate with the female.

No tortoise can live inside without a UVB light. A tortoise needs direct sunlight. Without that, the animal cannot metabolize the calcium it gets, and the shell will suffer.

I would take this animal to a vet in case there is something else wrong, too.

Keep it slow and steady.

Jul 24, 2011
poor turtle
by: Anonymous

my tortoise is almost two and has the same problem however its back legs hardly work and its shell is kinds soft which is concerning but i have no idea what is going on i am just feeding it a higher calcium diet and putting it out in the sun to try and make the shell harder but i do not know what is wrong with it

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