Leopard Tortoise With Severe Pyramiding Outfitted With 3-D Shell

April 3, 2015

A leopard tortoise  (Stigmochelys [Geochelone] pardalis) with severe pyramiding was outfitted with a temporary 3-D shell to help protect her now softened shell. The prosthetic device was built by Colorado Technical University student Roger Henry, who worked several hundred hours to learn how to use the 3-D modeling software to build the shell. 

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Pyramiding in Tortoises

cleopatra the leopard tortoise

Canyon Critter Reptile Rescue

Cleopatra tries out her new shell.

Cleopatra ended up at the Canyon Critter Reptile Rescue in Golden, CO in bad shape. Her shell was pyramiding and was so badly damaged that it gives with just light pressure, so the facility worked with the university and a herpetologist to build a temporary shell that is removable so she can absorb UV and still be protected. The 3-D shell is built to fit like a glove and is attached via velcro. This way, when she is interacting with other tortoises, her shell doesn’t get further damaged. The next version of the shell will include built in straps and ventilation. 

cleopatra the leopard tortoise


Cleopatra the leopard tortoise is now on  healthy diet.

Leopard tortoises are native to Africa and were imported into the United States up until March 2000. The tortoise is widely captive bred and is popular among reptile hobbyists. There are two subspecies of leopard tortoise, the southern (S. p. pardalis) and the northern (S. p. babcocki). They can grow to 45 pounds and live more than 60 years. 

John B. Virata keeps a western hognose snake, a ball python, two corn snakes, a kingsnake, and two leopard geckos. His first snake, a California kingsnake, was purchased at the Pet Place in Westminster, CA for $5. His first pet reptile was a green anole that arrived in a small box via mail order. Follow him on Twitter @johnvirata 


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