radiated tortoise

This beautiful tortoise lives in the deserts of Madagascar, an island off the coast of Africa. This reptile gets its name from the bright yellow "radiating" (star) pattern on its shell. In the wild, these tortoises eat grasses, cacti, and shrubs. They are endangered due to the destruction of their habitat and because people buy them illegally as pets.

Scientific name: Geochelone radiata
Size: 14 to 15 inches long
Diet: cacti, fruit, and other veggies
Habitat: dry region on the island of Madagascar
Characteristics: dark shell with yellow lines resembling triangles down its back; yellow and dark brown head
Threats: the pet trade, and overhunting

Image credits: main image: courtesy of AMNH, spectrum of life in Hall of Biodiversity.