The pancake tortoise gets its name from its flattened appearance. With their flat carapaces, these tortoises rarely exceed a height of 1 to 1 ½ inches. The tortoise’s shell is brown in color with random, radiating patterns on the scutes . Males can be distinguished from females by their larger, longer tails. Males often tend to be smaller than females. The pancake tortoise’s shell is thin and flexible and can be bent and depressed with mild pressure. While there is little space between the bones that underlie the shells of most tortoises, pancake tortoises have many openings between the bones, which give the shells their flexibility. The tortoise’s flattened, flexible shell allows it to fit into the narrow crevices in its habitat. The spaces that make the tortoise’s shell flexible also make it light. Therefore, pancake tortoises are surprisingly quick. They may be the fastest species of tortoise.