Pancake tortoise enjoys a Shrove Tuesday treat
Tuesday 14 February 2012
He may share his name with a pancake but thankfully this is the closest this creature will be getting to a frying pan on Shrove Tuesday.
Seen eyeing up a lemon, the pancake tortoise (Malacochersus tornieri) at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo was given the treat to mark the day he shares with his namesake.
And just like his namesake, he literally is as flat as a pancake - with the average pancake tortoise measuring six to seven inches long and just one inch thick.
Senior keeper, Melvin Lear, said: “Pancake tortoises are named after their unusually flattened shell and live in rocky crevices and small caves in East Africa.
“They tend to eat vegetation and Savannah grasses and while they may well enjoy a pancake, attracted by their sweet smell, it certainly wouldn’t be good for them!”
The pancake tortoise relies on its flattened shape and speed to outrun and hide from its predators - unlike most tortoises that have a heavy domed shell.
The pancake tortoise is also able take in a large quantity of air to expand its flexible shell to fit the space between the rocks, locking itself into a protective crevice.