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Indian & Burmese Star Tortoises

- shell patterns -

Burmese star tortoise (Geochelone platynota) shell pattern

Six-point pattern on a Burmese Star tortoise (Geochelone platynota)

Pattern Development

Burmese Stars

Burmese Star tortoises (Geochelone platynota) do not develop new radiating lines as they grow. What you see is what you get. WYSIWYG. :O) The number of lines in the shell patterns varies little among adult tortoises. The thickness of the lines does vary though. Some adult Burmese Stars have thinner, straight lines, and some have thicker, widening lines. The wider lines are known as a flower petal or fan pattern.

Indian Stars

Indian / Sri Lankan Star tortoises (Geochelone elegans) develop more radiating lines as they grow. On babies, new lines start out as little, yellow spots. The number, size, and shape of lines in the shell patterns varies a lot among adults.

See also the Indian vs Burmese Star (G. elegans vs G. platynota) page for more info on differences between the two species.

Shell pattern in Burmese Star Tortoises

a.) Carapace (top shell)

Geochelone platynota, Burmese Star tortoise

The shape and thickness of the lines on the carapace varies among individuals. These two Burmese Stars are brothers, but do not look alike.

Burmese star tortoise pattern development

Semi adult Burmese Star tortoise and a yearling. Notice how the number of the radiating lines (6 on most scutes) in Burmese Star tortoises stays the same regardless of the tortoise's age.

Burmese star tortoises (Geochelone platynota)

Small Burmese Star tortoise adult and a hatchling. The shininess is not from oil, just plain water sprayed on the shells just before taking the photo.

Burmese star tortoise (Geochelone platynota) hatchling & yearling

Another example of Burmese Star tortoise shell patterns - a hatchling and a yearling. Regardless of the baby's age, the number of lines in the star pattern is the same.

b.) Plastron (bottom shell)

baby Burmese Star tortoise plastron

Baby Burmese Star tortoise. The plastron has dark blotches along with some stripes.

Burmese Star tortoise (Geochelone platynota) plastron

Juvenile Burmese Star tortoise. No star patterns on the plastron, but clearly defined triangular blotches of dark color.

adult Burmese Star tortoise plastron pattern

Adult male Burmese Star tortoise with dark, triangular patches and a few stripes.

Shell pattern in Indian Star Tortoises

a.) Carapace (top shell)

indian star tortoises geochelone elegans

The star pattern is quite variable among adult Indian Star tortoises (Geochelone elegans). Some of them have wide stripes, some have narrow stripes, some have many stripes, and some have fewer stripes. Photo courtesy of Philip Chan.

indian star tortoise geochelone elegans

Indian Star tortoise baby weighing 23 grams. He has only few radiating lines (mostly 4 on vertebral scutes). Soon, new growing lines will start as little dots or short dashes. Photo courtesy of Kelly Hewitt, U.K.

indian star tortoise geochelone elegans

The same tortoise three years later at 245 grams. Beautiful! The number of radiating lines has increased noticeably, up to 9 on vertebral scutes at this point. Photo courtesy of Kelly Hewitt, U.K.

b.) Plastron (bottom shell)

Indian star tortoise (Geochelone elegans) plastron

Indian / Sri Lankan Star tortoises (Geochelone elegans) have beautiful radiating lines on their plastrons as well. New pattern lines are already visible on this Star youngster's belly.

Geochelone elegans plastron

Same tortoise as an adult with a fully developed pattern.

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