Activity of the greater padloper, Homopus femoralis (Testudinidae), in relation to rainfall
The greater padloper, Homopus femoralis, is largely endemic to South Africa. Its ecology remains unstudied, yet the efficient planning of field research is complicated by lack of data on its activity patterns. I studied a population in spring, summer and autumn 2008–2011, and found that H. femoralis was active (i.e. basking, drinking, feeding or walking) only during brief intervals following rainfall or imminent rain, perhaps to avoid avian predators or physiological costs of water and food shortages. Future studies might locate active tortoises in the highest rainfall months, and use telemetry to identify activity patterns throughout the year.
Key words: behaviour, ecology, Karoo, morphology, predation, reptile, tortoise.