The Burmese star tortoise is a striking medium-sized land tortoise with an oval-shaped carapace (top shell). Females are larger than males, with carapaces reaching at least 30cm (11.8 in). The carapace is dark brown or black with six or fewer radiating stripes extending from the yellow center of each scute (section of the carapace). Two-yellow stripes form a V-shaped pattern on each marginal scute (located along the edge of the carapace). The skin of the head, limbs, and tail is yellowish. The front legs are covered with large, pointed, rounded scales. The tail ends in a large horny scale.
The Burmese star tortoise inhabits thorn scrub, pastures, and dry deciduous forests (forests characterized by trees that shed their leaves in colder months). The vegetation found in these habitats includes plants adapted to survive in dry climates (xerophytes), fire-resistant species, and various grasses that comprise the understory. The Burmese star tortoise may also occur in man-made habitats–grazed pastures, scrub and field habitats, hedgerows, and agricultural fields in the dry zone. Tortoises have been known to shelter in bamboo thickets, dense scrub, undercut banks, and crevices among rocks.
The Burmese star tortoise is only found in the dry zone of central Burma (Myanmar), but its natural distribution within this region is not well defined.
Collection for trade– both as food and for the pet trade– is the main threat to the species, although habitat destruction, fragmentation, and conversion of land to row crop agriculture also threaten the species. The Burmese star tortoise inhabits a densely populated agricultural landscape, and both commercial and subsistence harvesting of tortoises have been common practices throughout the region.
SOURCE: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services
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