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Differentiating Kinixys homeana from Kinixys erosa - Chris Tabaka DVM

Copyright 2003 World Chelonian Trust. All rights reserved

While Bell’s hingebacks (Kinixys belliana) and the other Kinixys hingebacks can be readily differentiated from the "forest types" in the genus (Home’s hingebacks (Kinixys homeana) and Forest hingebacks (Kinixys erosa)), identification problems are often encountered in telling the latter two species apart.  While this typically was not a problem in the past in the United States due to the nearly complete absence of Kinixys erosa in the pet trade, recent importations of large numbers of these have been making the matter a little difficult of late.  



The primary differentiating feature and the only one I totally depend upon involves the fifth carapacial vertebral scute. 

Note the gently sloping curve of the vertebral scutes in the following picture (the scutes that go from the head to the tail down the middle of the carapace).   There is no sudden falloff of the scutes; instead the curve is nice and smooth from the head to the tail.   This is a forest hingeback tortoise (Kinixys erosa).   

Note the sudden dropoff in the fifth vertebral scute in the following picture.  The curvature of this scute is literally vertical rather than gently sloping.  This is a Home’s hingeback (Kinixys homeana).  This curvature takes place right at the START of this scute.  Even in older erosa with strong curvatures, the sharpest angle will be in the middle to the back of the fifth vertebral scute.

See if you can differentiate the following two different animals:

Again, note the smooth slope of the vertebral scutes in the animal to the left.   Also note the jagged point and vertical falloff of the scutes in the animal to the right.

The Forest hingeback  (Kinixys erosa) is on the left and the Home's hingeback (Kinixys homeana) is on the right.

A brief online pictorial quiz has been developed to test and develop your identification skills for this wonderful genus. Click here:  Name That Kinixys  to take this online quiz.

If the above is insufficient for you to identify your Kinixys, please feel free to send a digital picture of your animal to Ken Carlsen at  or Chris Hobson at for assistance. 


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