The Indian Star Tortoise, arguably one of the most beautiful species of tortoises in the world, is native to India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. It is found in very dry arid lands, so it does not like humidity (welcome to Florida) or the cold. Unfortunately because of its beauty is is very popular in the exotic pet trade, and now the species is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN. They all have the striated pattern on their scutes, what changes is how many lines you get, how thick they are, and how well they line up, but Raj definitely has a nice looking shell. Also the underside is the opposite side of the checkerboard, so it is really cool.
They had scientists design the best shell for flipping itself back over if a tortoise ever got caught upside down, and the tortoise closest to the design was the Indian Star. So they have really vertical sides, so any sort of horizontal wiggling will get them to flip back over. But an upside-down tortoise is one of the worst positions for a tortoise to be in, so very beneficial for them to have it.
Raj is our Indian Star Tortoise and he came to WCC along with his best pal Charlie in the summer of 2020. Someone’s son bought the two tortoises and was raising them in Florida before having to leave for North Carolina. The Red-Footeds can handle the temperatures up there pretty well, but unfortunately the Indian Stars can’t so he left them with his mom. After a couple of months she decided to find them a permanent home and chose us!
Raj is about 3 years old now, so he’s still pretty small. The Indian Stars grow up to between 8-12 inches or so and the girls are on average bigger than the boys. Raj still has plenty of time to grow, but as of right now he’s a couple of inches short. Their lifespan has been known to get up to 80 years, with averages closer to 30-55!