Elongated Tortoises have been reported to occur in a
variety of forest types, including open deciduous dipterocarp,
mountainous and hilly evergreen, mixed semi-evergreen,
bamboo, pine, and secondary forests; as well as savannah
grasslands and dry thorn scrub (Taylor 1970; Inger and
Colwell 1977; Ernst and Barbour 1989; Moll 1989;
Thirakhupt and van Dijk 1995; van Dijk 1998; Zug et al.
1998; Cox et al. 1998; Senneke 2000; Stuart et al. 2001;
Ziegler 2002; Grismer et al. 2007; Das 2010; Wangyal et al.
2012; Hartmann et al. 2013; Platt et al. 2013; Som and Cottet
2016; Fig. 8). In India and Nepal, I. elongata is typically
associated with sal forests (dominated by the tree species
Shorea robusta; Smith 1931). The species is mostly found
in deciduous forests with monsoonal climate in Thailand
(van Dijk 1998).
Open-canopied habitats of I. elongata can become very
hot during the day (Smith 1931; Das 1985; Tikader and
Sharma 1985). Swindells and Brown (1964) reported that
the species is able to endure air temperatures up to 48°C.
According to Das (1985) and Eberling (2001), I. elongata
salivates on its head and front limbs for cooling when exposed
to high temperatures. However, Elongated Tortoises seem to
avoid temperature extremes when possible through daily and
seasonal activity patterns. Indotestudo elongata is primarily
crepuscular with a bimodal daily activity pattern; activity is
mainly restricted to the early morning and the late evening
(Senneke 2000; Ihlow, unpubl. data). In Cambodia, tortoises
became active in the morning around 0500 hrs and continued
until 0800, while evening activity started around 1600 and
ended around 2000 hrs, depending on weather conditions
(Ihlow, unpubl. data). Although van Dijk (1998) reported
I. elongata to exhibit no well-dened activity pattern in
Thailand, increased activity in the early morning and the
late afternoon was noted. Daytime activity of tortoises was
mostly restricted to cloudy and rainy weather in Thailand
and Cambodia (van Dijk 1998; Ihlow, unpubl. data). In Laos,
Elongated Tortoises were found to inhabit rather cold areas
with minimum ambient temperatures of 2.2°C, maximum
ambient temperatures not exceeding 26°C, and constant
humidity values around 100% (Som and Cottet 2016).
Basking behavior appears to be infrequent in this species. In
Cambodia, basking was observed only a few times on cold
mornings between November and January (Ihlow, unpubl.
data). Basking of female tortoises in Thailand was observed
in September and was likely related to egg production (van
Dijk 1998). For periods of inactivity, tortoises seek retreats. In
Thailand, tortoises rested in vegetation, alongside fallen
tree trunks, in boulder caves, in a porcupine burrow, and
inside a hollow Lagerstroemia tree trunk, but they showed
a preference for resting places in dense grasses and along
fallen tree trunks (van Dijk 1998). In an evergreen forest
habitat in Laos, Elongated Tortoises were observed under
branches of bamboo and other dense bushes beneath pine
trees, beside fallen tree trunks, and in thick grasses (Som
and Cottet 2016). There are few reports on the behavior of
young tortoises in the wild, but a juvenile in Myanmar was
found hiding alongside a termite mound at midday (Zug et
al. 1998). The species is less active and appears to aestivate
during the dry season (Bourret 1941; Biswas et al. 1978; van
Dijk 1998; Ihlow et al. 2014; Som and Cottet 2016). Retreat
sites vary seasonally in northern Cambodia; tortoises rested
in dense vegetation during the rainy season but selected
former burrows of other animals, which offer more shelter
and stable climatic conditions, during the dry season (Ihlow,
pers. obs.). Similarly, Elongated Tortoises in Bangladesh
favored leaf litter retreats during the monsoon, but they
chose abandoned porcupine burrows more often in the dry
autumn season. Tortoises hid in bush/thickets during both
seasons in Bangladesh (Rahman et al. 2014). According to
hunters in Myanmar, tortoises move into vegetation along
streambeds or under accumulated leaves in ravines during
the dry season. Although surface water is absent during this
time, these areas retain relatively mesic micro-habitats (Platt
et al. 2001).
Indotestudo elongata is sympatric with the Burmese
Star Tortoise (Geochelone platynota) in central Myanmar.
While little is known about the ecological relationship
between these species, habitat partitioning does not appear
to occur. Both species exist in the same general area and
similar micro-habitats (Platt et al. 2001). The distributions
of two additional tortoise species, the Impressed Tortoise
(Manouria impressa) and Asian Giant Tortoise (Manouria
emys), overlap with portions of the range of I. elongata, but
the species do not share the same habitat types (de Bruin 1998;
Stanford et al. 2015). In western Myanmar, I. elongata and
the Arakan Forest Turtle (Heosemys depressa), a terrestrial
geoemydid, are found within the same overall habitat (Platt
et al. 2010a).
The Elongated Tortoise is an omnivorous generalist
(Ihlow et al. 2012; Sriprateep et al. 2013) and its diet seems
to vary according to availability by habitat and season (Ihlow
et al. 2012). For example, numerous authors have remarked
that I. elongata is highly frugivorous (Bourret 1941; Pritchard
1979; Das 1985; Tikader and Sharma 1985). However, Ihlow
(pers. obs.) found fruits to be nearly unavailable and of
little importance in the diet of tortoises in open dipterocarp
forest in northern Cambodia. Van Dijk (1998) reported that
I. elongata in western Thailand ate primarily herbaceous
leaves, fruits, and mushrooms. In areas where Elongated
Tortoises do consume a variety of fruits, they may play a
role in the dispersal of plant seeds (van Dijk 1998). Based
on the food preferences of captive animals, Biswas et al.
(1978) suggested that the fallen owers of Shorea robusta
were eaten by wild tortoises. One scat from a wild I. elongata
in Myanmar consisted primarily of grass (Platt et al. 2001).
Plant species conrmed to be eaten by wild Elongated
Tortoises include: Amaranthus lividus, Basella rubra,
Chromolaena odorata, Coccinia grandis, Crytococcum
accrescens, Cyanotis cristata, Cypreus spp., Dillenia spp.,
Ficus racemosa, Gomphrena celosioides, Ruellia tuberosa,
Sida acuta, and Sida subcordata (van Dijk 1998; Sriprateep et
al. 2013; Ihlow, pers. obs.). Statements from tortoise hunters
in Myanmar suggest that additional plants consumed by I.
elongata include: Allium spp., Dolichandrone spathacea,
Millettia brandisiana, Markhamia stipulata, and Olax
scandens (Platt et al. 2001). Fungi, particularly the fruiting
bodies of mushrooms (e.g., Termitomyces, Russula), are
readily eaten when available (Thirakhupt and van Dijk 1995;
Manthey and Grossmann 1997; van Dijk 1998; Platt et al.
2001; Ihlow et al. 2012). Indotestudo elongata also frequently
consumes animal material and has been observed preying
upon earthworms, slugs, and thin-shelled terrestrial snails
(e.g., Quantula striata, Hemiplecta distincta; Nutaphand
1979; Manthey and Grossmann 1997; Ihlow et al. 2012;
Sriprateep et al. 2013). Indotestudo elongata has also been
documented to scavenge carrion, such as the carcass of a
snake (Oligodon albocinctus; Som, pers. obs.; Fig. 9) and
the heavily decomposed skull of a civet (Viverra cf. zibetha;
Ihlow et al. 2012). The species will also eat the excrement
of other animals (van Dijk 1998; Sriprateep et al. 2013).
The remains of insects and crabs have been found in the
feces of I. elongata (van Dijk 1998; Ihlow et al. 2012).
Juveniles have been observed to feed on ants (Ihlow, pers.
obs.). Van Dijk (1998) also found sand and soil in the feces
of I. elongata; in some cases, the volume of soil seemed to
indicate that the material had been intentionally ingested.
Hunters in Myanmar noted that tortoises consume eggshells
from the hatched nests of the Red Junglefowl (Gallus gallus;
Platt et al. 2001). Distinctive patterns of seasonal changes in
body mass have been observed in Cambodia and Thailand
(van Dijk 1998; Ihlow 2012), most likely due to seasonal
availability of food and drinking water. Tortoises were found
to increase in mass during the rainy season and slowly lose
mass during the dry season.