Pancake tortoise

'As flat as a pancake' - as the saying goes.

These cute little flat shelled tortoises are from Tanzania and Kenya and get their name from their unique looking shell.

Unlike other tortoises the shell on a pancake tortoise is actually flexible. This makes them lighter and speedier than other tortoises.

This tortoise can certainly shift if it needs to and are and good climbers too. This proves very useful when they’re trying to avoid predators. When trying to hide they will wedge themselves in crevices (gaps in rocks) and puff up their body to wedge themselves so they can’t be pulled out. They do this in their enclosure at Folly Farm so don’t panic if you see them wedged sideways between two stones, it’s completely normal behaviour.

You’ll find our panckae tortoises in Kifaru Reserve alongside our rhino.


The biggest threat to pancake tortoises is habitat destruction and being taken for the pet trade. Because of its vulnerable status it’s now the subject of a breeding programme in European zoos, and we’re a member.

Pancake tortoise questions and answers

How long do they live?
Up to the thirty-five years, but they have been known to live longer.

They’re quite small…how big do they actually get?
They can grow 15/17cm (6/7 inches) long and up to 2.5cm (1 inch) tall. A baby pancake tortoise is the size of a 50 pence piece.

Manyara the rhino
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Kifaru Reserve

Come and see our crash of black rhinos at Kifaru Reserve and learn all about this critically endangered species

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Conservation Partners

With your help - we're supporting numerous conservation projects working to save animals in the wild

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Meet our rhinos

Go behind the scenes in our rhino house where you can get to know (and help feed) these amazing animals!

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Zoo Membership

We're proud to be members of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) and the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA). Our membership means we share knowledge with leading zoos across the UK and Europe, and we learn from them too.