Chaco Tortoise

Alternative Name
Argentine Tortoise Scientific Name: Geochelone chilensis

Basic Info

The Chaco Tortoise is considered a threatened animal. They are becoming less populous primarily because of habitat destruction and the pet trade. Around 75,000 Chaco Tortoises are captured yearly to sell as pets in Argentina and Paraguay, however, Chaco Tortoises are rarely sold outside those areas. It is believed that around 32% of Chaco Tortoises die within one year of being caught. Chaco Tortoises are also threatened because of destruction of their habitats. Because Chacos are primarily grazing tortoises, when the ground vegetation is burnt off, they are forced to compete with larger, faster animals like goats for food. The destruction of the habitat makes it difficult for the tortoises to hide and they are easily collected. Chaco tortoises are members of the subgenus Chelonoidis, and some authors believe Chelonoidis should be considered its own genus, thus the Chaco Tortoise is sometimes listed as Chelonoidis chilensis. The Chaco Tortoise is moderately sized. They are closely related to the Red-Footed and Yellow-Footed Tortoises and are the smallest Geochelone tortoise known.


Chaco Tortoises need a large enclosure, larger than most animals of their size. They should be kept outdoors as much as possible. Most Chaco Tortoises in captivity are fed on a variety of plant matter. The diet usually consists of 75% dark leafy greens and grasses such as clover and alfalfa, 15% vegetables, and 10% fruit.

 Chaco Tortoise

Found primarily in moderately arid regions including sparsely vegetated land, grasslands with few trees and woodlands


The Chaco Tortoise is a moderately sized tortoise from Argentina. Because they are considered an endangered species, they are rarely available as pets outside of South America. Chaco Tortoises are found primarily in moderately arid regions including sparsely vegetated land, grasslands with few trees and woodlands. It has been reported that the Chaco Tortoise hibernates in the winter, and this may explain why they retreat to deeper burrows in cold weather. They may also spend the winter in a semi-dormant state, emerging from the burrow to drink, go to the bathroom and move around. During warmer weather, the Chaco Tortoise spends most of the day in shallow burrows. In the wild, they feed primarily on shrubs, grasses, cactus pads and fruit. Because they will sometimes eat meat in captivity, it is believed that they may feed on carrion in the wild. While they live in moderately dry areas, they do enjoy soaking in water.


South America


Chaco Tortoises are found between southwestern Bolivia, western Paraguay, northern Patagonia and northwestern Argentina. Primarily, they live in Argentina and Paraguay.

Common Foods

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

Related feeds
Dog Cat Horse Birds Fish Snake Turtle Tortoise Salamander and Newts