Pet Care Guides Reptile

Hinged Back Tortoise


West Africa


Forests, near water

Average Size

8-10 inches


The Home's Hinge-back Tortoise is a smaller chelonian from West Africa. They get their name from the hinge-like connection where the back of their shell attaches to the rest of the shell. They are found in forests, typically near water. Their shell (carapace) is dark brown, usually striped with light yellow. Their legs and head often have orange or yellow tones. Hinge-back Tortoises have a fairly long lifespan. They are occasionally imported and make fairly decent pets for advanced keepers only.


This species attains a length around 8-10 inches, which is good for keepers that don't want a huge tortoise (like the African Spur-Thighed which can reach around 2 feet in diameter!). Hinged-backs require at least a 75 gallon tank. Despite their reasonable size, these tortoises can be a bit more difficult to keep due to their finicky nature.

They must be kept at moderately high temperatures in the upper 80's, and they require high humidity, over 70 percent! They also require a large water area to soak and swim in. Because of their affinity for swimming and soaking in water, they will require a very large enclosure. They would prefer a moving water area (so that the water is cooler than the air temperature), and this area should be kept very clean (via a filter). This tortoise will also need a basking area with temperatures in the 90's, preferably away from the water area. A 5% UVB fluorescent lamp should also be provided to prevent a condition called shell pyramiding and other serious calcium deficiency problems. Use cypress mulch substrate and moss to maintain humidity in the enclosure.


Juvenile hinge-backs are actually almost entirely carnivorous. They will feed on a diet of snails, earthworms, and sometimes fish. Sprinkle some vitamins on the worms or snails before offering them to your tortoise. They also may enjoy aquatic snails and other crustaceans.

Adults will eat all that they enjoyed as juveniles, but will also require a steady diet of fresh fruits and vegetables. Unlike other tortoise species, the hinge-back seems to prefer fruits to veggies. Juveniles should be fed daily while adults can be fed every other day.

Helpful Hints

This species can become aggressive towards one another and should be housed separately. Also, under no circumstances should they be housed with another species!

Follow these simple tips and you should be off to a great start with your new tortoise. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to call us: That Fish Place, That Pet Place, (717) 299-5691, option 7.