Burmese Brown Tortoise

Alternative Name
Burmese Mountain Tortoise, Manouria Brown Tortoise Scientific Name: Manouria emys emys

Basic Info

There are two subspecies of Burmese Brown Tortoise. This section describes the nominate species (Manouria emys emys) which is the smaller of the two. The average mature Burmese Brown Tortoise's carapace length will rarely exceed 40 centimeters in length. Mature individuals usually do not exceed 20 kilograms in weight. In contrast, the other subspecies (Manouria emys phayrei) has been recorded as having carapace lengths as large as 60 centimeters and weighing as much as 37 kilograms. Manouria emys phayrei, has a flatter carapace than that of the nominate form. The higher dome of Manouria emys emys may be used to help distinguish it from M. e. phayrei. As their common name suggests, Burmese Brown Tortoises are usually brown in color with very few markings. Some individuals may be darker, with coloration closer to black. Adult Burmese Brown Tortoises are sometimes called "Six-Legged Tortoises" because their thighs have large, tubercular scales. Hatchling Burmese Brown Tortoises average between six and 6.6 centimeters (2.4 to 2.6 Inches) and weigh between 47 and 55 grams (1.6 to 1.9 ounces). The babies are usually grayish brown or brown and their plastrons are darker in color. It has been reported that the Burmese Brown Tortoise has eyes that protrude more than those belonging to desert tortoises.


Unlike some tortoises the Burmese Brown does not tolerate overly high heat. They do best when kept anywhere from 15 to 20 degrees Celsius, though they have been known to continue feeding in temperatures as low as 10 degrees Celsius. The rain forest and mountainous humidity in their native environment may account for the need for lower temperatures than desert species and a need for high humidity. It is important that captive individuals have plenty of water to soak in. If you live in an area where outdoor maintenance is possible, this is preferred since this species thrives in the rain. This species is not known to hibernate, so it will need to kept in a heated enclosure if temperatures get too low. The Burmese Brown Tortoise may be prone to flagellate infections, stomatitis and pneumonia. Imported individuals generally have a difficult time acclimating to captivity and are more likely to have diseases and parasites. Breeding The Burmese Brown Tortoise has unique reproductive habits in the wild. They lay their eggs in a mound nest that is built by the female. The mound is built by "back-sweeping": the tortoise sweeps the litter towards the mound backwards, with her back facing the mound. The Burmese Brown Tortoise can lay the largest number of eggs per clutch of any tortoise. The maximum number per clutch is fifty one eggs, although most clutches average closer to forty. After laying her eggs, the female guards the nest for two or three days. The eggs will hatch after between 63 and 68 days at 84 degrees Fahrenheit (29 Celsius). In captivity it has been reported that higher incubation temperatures may cause the eggs to become non-viable.

 Burmese Brown Tortoise picture

Found in parts of Southeast Asia, including Myanmar, Assam, Thailand, Sumatra, the Malay Peninsula and Borneo


The Burmese Brown Tortoise, sometimes known as the Burmese Mountain Tortoise, Manouria Brown Tortoise, or Six Legged Tortoise is the largest Asiatic land tortoise. The Burmese Brown Tortoise is native to the mountainous regions of Southeast Asia. In the daytime they may soak in shallow water to avoid over-heating. This is a shy species, and therefore not much information is available about their behavior in the wild. Like many other tortoises, the Burmese Brown Tortoise is most likely active in the morning and evening hours, when it is not very hot. While the exact diet of the Burmese Brown Tortoise is unknown, it is likely that they feed primarily on vegetation, such as succulents, grasses and fruits in the wild. In captivity they do well on a diet of green vegetables and fruits, though some animal protein should be added to their diet on a regular basis to ensure good health. This tortoise is not very common in captivity. This may be due to the fact that they are not imported as often as other species, and the imported specimens may be difficult to care for and acclimate to life in captivity.


Southeast Asia


The Burmese Brown Tortoise can be found in parts of Southeast Asia, including Myanmar, Assam, Thailand, Sumatra, the Malay Peninsula and Borneo. This species was first recorded in 1844 by Schelgel and Muller. Initially it was classified as 'Testudo emys', but since then, their taxonomy has been altered. Today they are classified by the genus 'Manouria' which includes the largest Asiatic land tortoises. The Burmese Brown Tortoise is classified by the species name 'emys' and is further broken down into two subspecies, 'e. emys' and 'e. phayrei'. In 1979 Wirot classified ' e. phayrei' as 'Geochelone nutapundi' and they are best known under this taxonomy.

Common Foods

Sulcatas are herbivores and, in the wild, get most of their food from dried grasses and leaves.

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