The forest hingeback tortoises are an interesting species that do not make good pets for the first time tortoise owner. Often, the ones offerred on the market are imported specimens that contain many parasites. Although most animals contain parasites in the wild, in captivity, the animals are living in a confined area and may reingest internal parasite adults or eggs, and large numbers can build up resulting in the death of the tortoise. This tortoise is occasionally offered on dealers lists and very rarely in pet shops.
That being said, the forest hingeback is certainly one of the most unusual looking tortoises. Patterened with brown and yellow markings on the carapace, many I have seen have bright yellow heads. They are quite attractive tortoises. Because they live in tropical forests and streambanks of Africa, they are quite shy and do not do well with bright lights. A humid terrarium with a substrate which the tortoises can dig into works well for this species. These tortoises are highly omnivorous. The ones i have kept in captivity would readily accept any live invertebrate, including earthworms, snails and slugs.
The forest hingeback tortoise is one of the very few tortoises that may venture into the water, according to Ernst and Barbour (1989). This is really important when considering captive care. It prefers moist areas! It is semi-aquatic. In nature, it is often found in the water, according to Ernst and Barbour (1989, Smithsonian Institution, Turtles of the World)
Status and Conservation
Kinixys erosa status in the wild is not known. The IUCN, who publishes international
"Red Books" that contain data regarding endangered species, list K. erosa as Data Defecient,
meaning more researd needs to be completed to determine if this species is endangered.
This species, like all hingebacks, is listed under CITES appendix II. This means that countries
can export a certain number of animals. In 2001, the following numbers of tortoises can be legally
exported from these countries: (courtesy of CITES
2001 Democratic Republic of the Congo 500 live
2001 Gabon 10 live
2001 Ghana 120 live
2001 Togo 1 900 ranched
2001 Togo 500 wild-taken
Ranched specimens are those that are collected from the wild as eggs or juveniles. Live specimens
are those taken directly from the wild. As you can see, approximately 2500 tortoises are taken
from these countries each year. If their current status is not known, a sustainable quota may not
be determined. I would estimate from forest hingebacks i have seen in pet stores, and stories that
I have heard, that no more than 10% of these exported tortoises live more than a few
years in captivity.
Since this tortoise is habitat specific, prefering rainforests and aquatic systems, this tortoise is probably more at risk than Bell's hingeback tortoises, which can and do well in agricultural areas (Link to an article about this coming soon!)