Spider Tortoises - Genus Pyxis

  • From Madagascar
  • Does not hibernate
  • 100% herbivorous diet
  • Enjoys an average humidity level of 77%
  • Temperature range of mid 50's to mid 80's (13 to 29 C)is average
  • Regular soaking or constant access to water recommended
  • Very sensitive in captivity
  • Extreme variations in shell pattern(see below)

        Pyxis         Pyxis         Pyxis         Pyxis         Pyxis         Pyxis

Identification:

  • Pyxis arachnoides arachnoides - plastron totally devoid of markings and anterior lobe will close completely to touch carapace
  • Pyxis arachnoides oblonga - plastron with black markings on scutes and anterior lobe will close completely to touch carapace
  • Pyxis arachnoides brygooi - plastron totally devoid of markings but anterior lobe will not close fully to touch carapace
  • Pyxis planicauda - no plastral hinge whatsoever, and obviously lower in profile than the three sub-species of arachnoides

  • Temperature and Humidity Preferences:

  • Pyxis arachnoides ssp. - these tortoises may experience temperatures ranging from a low of 43 F (6 C) to a high of 108 F (42 C)in their natural range. The average temperatures range from 58 F (14 C) to 92 F (33 C) and average relative humidity is 78%. They seem to prefer temperatures in the low 80's. (27 to 29 C)
  • Pyxis planicauda - these tortoises may experience temperatures ranging from 48 F (9 C) to 102 F (39 C) in their natural range. The average temperatures range from 58 F (14 C) to 90 F (32 C) and average relative humidity is 77%. This species seems to be active at lower temperatures than arachnoides. I have observed normal feeding behavior in temperatures as low as the upper 50's (14 C). As the temperature approaches the mid 80's (29 C) this species becomes less active and may seek shelter.

  • Behavior:

  • Both species are most active in the morning shortly after sunrise, later seeking out shade and remaining inactive until late in the afternoon or the next morning.
  • These tortoises do not seem to have very great space requirements. I successfully maintain up to 14 adult specimens in a 3' X 6' (0.9 m X 2.75 m) Neodesha tub.
  • Both species like to dig into their substrate for security. I maintain my specimens in 3" to 4" (75 mm to 100 mm) deep cypress or eucalyptus mulch.
  • Feeding:

  • Feed any and all types of fruits and vegetables diced into " (6 mm) cubes and mixed with assorted greens. Suggestions are: cucumbers, tomatoes, green and yellow squash, apples, melons of all types, peppers, carrots (grated), peaches, pears, berries of any kind, sweet potatoes (microwave to soften), Opuntia cactus fruits, mushrooms, radicchio, kale, escarole, any types of lettuces, various types of flowers, and plant leaves (experiment). Make the above into a salad and mix it all together and offer it daily (with Herptevite and Repcal added a couple of times weekly). As noted above, these tortoises are most active in the morning, so I feed them the salad mixture then. I leave large leaves of kale and escarole in the tubs constantly so they can browse on them when the salad gets eaten.
  • Special addition for planicauda - chopped or halved mushrooms are a real favorite with this species. For this reason, I recommend making the salad mix for this species with a high mushroom content. I have also observed planicauda occasionally feeding on slugs.
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