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How Big Do Egyptian Tortoises Get? Average Weight & Growth Chart

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Egyptian tortoise

The Egyptian Tortoise is an adorable tortoise species, considered one of the world’s smallest. It originally inhabited the southern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, although now its population is only still present in some regions of Libya. These lovely tortoises have an average lifespan of 50 years and sometimes even longer. They are distinctive for their tiny bodies, which are meant to help them endure extreme desert temperatures. When they are born, they don’t weigh more than 0.14 ounces and are about the size of a dime, but as adults, Egyptian Tortoises grow 3–5 inches and 3.7–14.4 oz of weight.

Read the article below to learn more about this fantastic tortoise species, how they grow, and how you can keep track of their growth yourself.

Egyptian Tortoise Breed Overview

The Egyptian Tortoise, also known as Kleinmann’s Tortoise, is a species native to Libya, Egypt, and Israel. While these tortoises are considered critically endangered and even extinct in some areas, they can still be found in small patches of Libyan territory. Egyptian Tortoises are incredibly small desert animals. Their tiny bodies allow them to adjust their body temperatures to survive extreme desert conditions quickly.

This tortoise species has a unique appearance, characterized by pale coloring. The color of the shell varies from a rich golden yellow to a subtle cream and even gray. The most accurate way to recognize an Egyptian Tortoise in the wild is to look at its plastron. The underside of this tortoise, or its plastron, has two distinctive, dark brown markings.

The average lifespan of Egyptian Tortoises is around 50 years, although, with proper care and diet, they can live to be 70 or even 100 years old in captivity.

Egyptian desert turtle
Image Credit: Amir Elsayed,Shutterstock

Egyptian Tortoise Size and Growth Chart

The Egyptian Tortoise is considered one of the world’s smallest tortoise species. When the Egyptian Tortoise is born, it is no larger than a dime, being around 0.75 inches. Most tortoise species will grow 1 to 4 inches annually. However, the Egyptian Tortoise reaches 4 inches only at maturity after 7 to 10 years.

Egyptian tortoises have sexual dimorphism, meaning that males and females have significant differences in their appearance. Adult females are larger in size than males, reaching around 4 to 5 inches, while males reach 3 to 4 inches. The female shell is also slightly different than the male’s, having a more domed shape.

Age Size Range Weight Range
Birth 0.75 inches 0.14 oz
1–3 years 1–1.6 inches 0.35–0.63 oz
7–10 years (Adult) 3–5 inches 3.7–14.4 oz

When Does an Egyptian Tortoise Stop Growing?

While the average lifespan of the Egyptian Tortoise is at least 50 years, they reach adulthood much earlier, between the ages of 7 and 10 in the wild. Once this tortoise reaches maturity, they stop growing, which is why they only grow up to 3, 4, and sometimes 5 inches.

Egyptian tortoise in a wildlife
Image Credit: Matt Starling Photography, Shutterstock

Factors Affecting the Size of Egyptian Tortoise

The most significant factor influencing the growth rate of Egyptian Tortoises is genetics. Certain species grow faster than others. With Egyptian Tortoises, very few factors can affect their growth, as it can only vary by a few inches.

A proper diet is another crucial factor affecting a tortoise’s size. Nutrition is a main factor that promotes young tortoises’ healthy growth and development.

Their habitat and environmental conditions are other important factors. Their growth rate might change depending on whether they live in the wild or captivity. Their small size is required for them to survive extreme heat conditions if living in the desert.

Ideal Diet for Maintaining a Healthy Weight

In captivity, the Egyptian Tortoise feeds on grasses, fruits, and vegetables. They require plenty of dark, leafy greens to maintain an ideal weight and ensure healthy growth. The best greens to offer your Egyptian Tortoise are leaf lettuce, chickweed, corn poppy, and even the green parts of the dandelion plant.

The Egyptian Tortoise also adores and benefits from fruits such as apples and bananas. When offering your tortoise fruit, only do so once or twice a week as an occasional treat.

Kleinmann's tortoise (Testudo kleinmanni), also called commonly the Egyptian tortoise
Image Credit: Michal Sloviak,Shutterstock

How to Measure Your Egyptian Tortoise

To measure your Egyptian Tortoise, you will need several tools and materials, especially if you want to keep your own growth chart.

  • Soft measuring tape
  • Kitchen scale
  • Popsicle stick
  • Level
  • Ruler
  • Bowl or pot
  • Pencil and notebook

You will need a simple soft tape measure to measure your tortoise’s length. Hold one end of the tape measure at the top end of the carapace and stretch it towards the other end of the carapace. You can measure its width the same way—hold the tape measure at one side and drag it across the other side of the carapace.

To measure your tortoise’s weight, you’ll need a kitchen scale, and depending on its size, you might need a pot or planter. Put your tortoise on the pot and the scale, and then subtract the weight of the pot and write down the measurement.

You’ll need a popsicle stick, a ruler, and a small level to measure your tortoise’s height. Flip your tortoise carefully on its back, and place the popsicle stick on it. On top of the popsicle stick, place the level to make sure you’re holding everything in place. Once the stick and level are secure in place, place the ruler next to the tortoise vertically and measure its height.

Egyptian tortoise
Image Credit: Rafael Ramirez Lee,Shutterstock


After learning about the Egyptian Tortoise size, we encourage you to record your tortoise’s growth over the years. This tortoise is unique because of its tiny size, growing only up to 5 inches and weighing only up to 14.4 ounces. Monitoring your tortoise’s growth is important to ensure they develop properly and at a healthy rate.

Featured Image Credit: reptiles4all, Shutterstock

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