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What Size Does A Tortoise Grow To? (Biggest + Smallest Species)

Last Updated on September 19, 2023 by Samantha Harris

Some tortoise species live size-centric lifestyles. According to Biological Sciences, giant tortoises are slow and sedentary due to their weight and size, while smaller tortoises are more mobile and active.

Tortoises reach their maximum size within 1-10 years, with 5 years being the average.

The sulcata is the largest pet tortoise, reaching 2-2 ½ feet and up to 100 pounds. Horsefield and Russian tortoises are 5-10 inches and 1.1 to 3 pounds, and Hermann’s reach 7 ½ inches and 7-8 pounds.

According to the Journal of Zoology, male tortoises are usually smaller than female tortoises. That’s most likely because female torts need space to develop and store eggs.

The size of a tortoise varies based on how well it’s cared for, so those given space, nutritious food, and optimal temperatures/humidity are more likely to fulfill their growth potential.

Average Tortoise Species Sizes and Weights

Galapagos tortoises can reach over 4 feet long and weigh 660 pounds. Meanwhile, Egyptian tortoises can be 3 inches long and weigh 5 ounces.

Here are the different tortoise species’ average size and weights:

Tortoise TypeAverage SizeAverage Weight
Sulcata Tortoises3–4 feet80–100 pounds
Horsefield Tortoises5–8 inches1.1 pound
Russian Tortoises8–10 inches3 pounds
Red Foot Tortoises10–18 inches20–24 pounds
Hermann’s Tortoises7.5 inches7–8 pounds
Leopard Tortoises10–18 inches44 pounds
Testudo Tortoises10–12 inches12-13 pounds
Desert Tortoises12–14 inches8–15 pounds

Sulcata Tortoises (Centrochelys Sulcata)

After Aldabra and Galapagos tortoises, the sulcata tortoise is the world’s 3rd largest tortoise.

Many first-time owners buy 1 ½ to 2-inch-long baby tortoises, not realizing it’s a sulcata until it grows into a large tortoise 5-10 years later.

On average, sulcata tortoises reach 2 ½ feet at maturity and weigh 80-100 pounds.

While a tortoise’s growth rate differs from one individual to another, sulcatas take 5-10 years to reach their maximum size and weight.

Horsefield Tortoises (Testudo Horsfieldii)

Horsefield tortoises (Russian tortoises) are native to Central Asia and the Middle East.

Males grow to 5-8 inches, while females reach about 6-10 inches at maturity. Horsefield hatchlings are small, at around 1 inch long.

Due to their diminutive size and lightweight shells, Horsefield tortoises are lightweight. A mature Horsefield tortoise weighs an average of 500 grams to 1.1 pounds.

Red-Footed Tortoises (Chelonoidis Carbonaria)

Red-footed tortoises are a South American species commonly found in Brazil, Guyana, French Guiana, Suriname, Venezuela, and northern Argentina.

Red-footed tortoises are about 1 ½ to 2 inches long when they hatch.

They reach their full adult size in 5-10 years at 10-18 inches. A mature red-footed tortoise weighs roughly 24 pounds, so it’s a medium-sized tortoise.

Hermann’s Tortoises (Testudo Hermanni)

Hermann’s tortoises (are native to certain parts of Europe and North Africa, preferring dry, open forests, grasslands, and scrublands. There are several sub-species, so their sizes vary considerably.

Hermann hatchlings are about 1 ½ to 2 inches long. Despite reaching 7.5 inches at maturity, Hermann’s are still slow growers. They take years to grow, reaching a weight of 7-9 pounds as mature adults.

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Leopard Tortoises (Stigmochelys Pardalis)

The leopard tortoise (also known as South African Leopard Tortoises) is native to southern Africa and can be found in Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.

Leopard tortoises are a fast-growing species starting at 1-2 inches long upon hatching. They’ll reach a near-adult size in under a year, provided they receive proper care and enjoy a healthy lifestyle.

The rapid growth of leopard tortoises is one of its main selling points because some owners are deterred by the many years it takes other species to reach their full size.

The adult size of an individual leopard tortoise may vary depending on its locale. The standard for leopard tortoises is 10-18 inches, although those from Ethiopia and Somalia can reach 30 inches.

The standard-sized adult weighs around 44 pounds, but larger variations can weigh twice as much.

Testudo Tortoises (Testudines)

There are two testudo tortoises: the spur-thighed tortoise and the Greek tortoise. Although closely related, they’re different species.

Testudo Ibera, or the spur-thighed tortoise, is a medium-sized tortoise that reaches approximately 7-8 inches long at maturity. It weighs in at around 15 pounds.

Meanwhile, the testudo graeca, or Greek tortoise, is a smaller tortoise that reaches 5 to 6 inches at maturity and weighs around 13 pounds.

Desert Tortoises (Gopherus Agassizii)

Formally known as the Mojave desert tortoise, this is another medium-sized tortoise. It’s a species native to the region north and west of the Colorado River in the United States.

Desert tortoises grow to 9-15 inches long and weigh around 8-15 pounds at maturity. They’re medium-paced growers that reach their mature sizes at 15-20 years old.

What Tortoise Grows the Biggest?

Among the pet species, the sulcata tortoise is the largest.

It’s native to the Sahara desert and sits just behind the Galapagos and Aldabra giant tortoises as the biggest species. It can grow to 2 ½ feet in adulthood.

These giants grow quickly, reaching maturity after 5-10 years. This means owners must be prepared for this fast growth rate and prepare a large pen to explore.

A mature sulcata tortoise averages 80 pounds, but some can weigh over 100 pounds.

What Is the Largest Tortoise in The World?

The largest tortoise in the world was Goliath.

He was a Galapagos tortoise that measured 4.5 feet long. Goliath was only 42 years old when he died and measured 3 feet in width. He weighed 919 pounds, making him the heaviest tortoise ever recorded.

As for living record-holders, we can look to the Aldabra tortoise species living on Bird Island in the Seychelles archipelago.

This male tortoise, Esmeralda, weighs over 670 pounds and is thought to be around 170 years old.

How Fast Do Tortoises Grow?

Tortoises are slow growers. For example, the Sulcata tortoise stops growing after 5-10 years, but considering its large size, it’s a fast pace.  

Hermann’s tortoises are small-sized, growing to about 7.5 inches in adulthood. When compared to sulcata tortoises, they’re slow growers despite taking 5-10 years to reach their full growth potential.

Leopard tortoises are medium-sized and reach an average of 24 inches at maturity. They’re fast growers, taking less than 1 year to reach their near-adult size.

How Old Is A Tortoise When Fully Grown?

Unlike other long-lived species, tortoises don’t take their entire lives to reach their full size. Instead, they reach their full length and weight during adolescence and stop growing.   

For example, the sulcata tortoise takes about 10 years from hatching to reach its adult size. Given its 100+ year lifespan, this doesn’t account for much of its life.

Russian or horsefield tortoises may never grow beyond 1-3 pounds, while red-footed tortoises should reach 20-24 pounds. You can expect a weight of 80 pounds from sulcata tortoises.