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Spekes Hingeback Tortoises

Spekes hingeback tortoises are a fascinating species of tortoise that are native to parts of East Africa. These tortoises derive their name from the unique hinge-like structure on the back of their shells that allows them to retract and protect their vulnerable limbs when threatened.

Physical Characteristics

Spekes hingeback tortoises have a unique appearance that distinguishes them from other tortoise species. They have a high-domed shell that is brownish in color and heavily ridged. Their shells are also equipped with a hinged section near the back, which is used to protect vulnerable areas such as their legs and tail. This hinge allows the shell to close shut if the tortoise feels threatened, making it nearly impossible for predators to get to them.

Unlike most other species of tortoises, Spekes hingeback tortoises have a somewhat elongated neck, allowing them to more easily reach food on higher ground. They also have well-developed limbs, which are equipped with strong claws that are used for digging and foraging for food.

Habitat and Diet

Spekes hingeback tortoises are found in woodland regions across East Africa, including Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. They prefer humid and slightly damp environments, and can often be found near streams or other sources of water.

In their natural habitat, Spekes hingeback tortoises have an omnivorous diet consisting of a variety of fruits, vegetables, and insects. They have even been known to eat small mammals and carrion in some cases. In captivity, they can be fed a diet consisting of dark leafy greens, fruits, and vegetables, as well as mealworms and other insects.


Spekes hingeback tortoises are generally quite shy and cautious animals. They are not known for being particularly social, and prefer to spend most of their time in solitude. When threatened, they will typically retract into their shells, using the hinge at the back of their shell to protect their vulnerable limbs and tail.

One interesting behavior that has been observed in Spekes hingeback tortoises is their ability to vocalize. These tortoises have a vocal range that extends beyond what is typically expected in reptiles, and they use a variety of sounds to communicate with each other.

Conservation Status

Like many other species of tortoises, Spekes hingeback tortoises are facing threats from habitat loss and human activities such as poaching. They are currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, but this designation could change if conservation efforts are not implemented to protect their natural habitat.

In recent years, captive breeding programs for Spekes hingeback tortoises have been initiated in an effort to make them more readily available to those interested in keeping them as pets. These efforts have been successful, and Spekes hingeback tortoises are becoming increasingly popular as exotic pets.

At Riverview Reptiles we have started a Captive breeding project with this fascinating species to provide the hobby with captive bred baby Hingebacks.


Overall, Spekes hingeback tortoises are a fascinating species with a unique appearance and interesting behaviors. They are relatively easy to care for in captivity, and their shy and cautious nature can make them a rewarding companion for those willing to put in the time and effort to build a strong bond. However, it is important to consider the conservation implications before bringing any exotic animal into your home. With proper care and attention, Spekes hingeback tortoises can make a wonderful addition to any household.

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