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#348 Radiated Tortoise

Critically Endangered

These tortoises are mainly from the south and southwest of Madagascar, but they can be found in smaller numbers elsewhere on the island and have been introduced to a couple other islands in the area. They weigh up to 35 pounds and are about a foot and a half long. They have a very rounded dome. Most of them in captivity appear to develop pyramiding. That is where each scute (the sections of the shell, sort of like tiles) mounds up forming a sort of mountain-like shape. There are different views on what causes it, most feel it is either a lack of humidity or protein. Pyramiding seems so prevalent with these in captivity that many consider it normal for the species. The pictures I saw of wild ones though did not have that problem so I did not want to paint it that way, even though from an artistic standpoint it would have been very interesting looking. The tortoise is "collected" for use as food as well as for the pet trade. They are often smuggled out of Madagascar in large numbers. In fact, one seizure back in 2016 rescued 146 tortoises someone from Nepal was trying to transport. Of the 146 tortoises, 139 were Radiated Tortoises (2 had died), the rest were another critically endangered species. They are very popular because of how pretty their shells are. Some have even been stolen in large numbers from a captive breeding program. Along with being captured, habitat loss is another problem for them.

By 5:30 tonight, this was all I had gotten done. I'd been planning on doing a different tortoise, but then changed my mind because I was seeing an awful lot of pictures of that tortoise that did not seem to actually be that tortoise. Unfortunately, I had to stop at this point because my neck was acting up, yet again. Ibuprofen and a heating pad, plus some pity party chocolate are my main methods of coping with this. I was very worried I might not get it finished in time so I just decided to deal with it and eventually got up, deciding if I focused enough on painting I wouldn't feel pain. It sort of worked, and now that I'm done I am going to go use my heating pad again. Hopefully I will be able to go to sleep and when I wake up it won't be as bad. I need to figure out what my last week of paintings will be. I'd like to have a mammal, fish, bird, invertebrate, reptile, and amphibian, and then the last painting, whatever that is.

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