All about Indian & Burmese Star tortoises, Angulates, and Golden Greeks...

Angulate Tortoises

- brief profile -

chersina angulata

Angulate tortoise (Chersina angulata)

Angulate tortoise

The Angulate / Angulated tortoise (Chersina angulata) is a beautiful tortoise native to South Africa and possibly a small part of Namibia (introduced?). Even though it is not a star patterned tortoise, it has lovely shell markings of dots and stripes. So, it's a star among tortoises in my book. :O)

The Angulate tortoise was probably named so after the dark triangles on the marginal scutes. It's also called the Bowsprit tortoise. This name comes from the large, undivided gular scute (throat shield) the tortoise has under its head. Adult males have longer gulars than females.

Note: Bow is the most forward part of a ship, and bowsprit of a sailing ship is the long pole extending out in the front of the ship.

In the past, Bowsprit tortoise was the familiar name for Chersina angulata. Today, both Angulate tortoise and Angulated tortoise are commonly used. CITES uses the common name Angulated tortoise with letter d at the end. I use the shorter word Angulate because that's the name found in South African herpetological literature.

Common names

bowsprit tortoise - Chersina angulata

Here you can see well the long gular shield of a mature male Angulate tortoise. Thus,
the old common name Bowsprit tortoise. Note: No, he's not choking against his throat shield. That's his mating expression. :O)

Angulate / Bowsprit tortoise

Front view of a male's gular shield.

Current classification

Old name

Confusing names



Carapace, plastron and coloring



chersina angulata

Female Angulate tortoise

Male vs female

Mating and reproduction

Activity and personality

Captive care


Tortoises with similar shell patterns

Marginated tortoise in Greece. Similar shell pattern to Angulate tortoise.

This Marginated tortoise was scurrying near ancient ruins in Greece. Notice how similar the appearance and shell markings are to those in Angulate tortoises. Yellow dots and triangles. However, the the rear of Marginated tortoise's carapace flairs out forming a "skirt."

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