The pancake tortoise has a very flat, flexible shell, which can be bent and depressed with only mild pressure. While the shell bones of most other tortoises are solid, the pancake tortoise has shell bones with many openings. Their carapace is brown with a random pattern of radiating lines on each scute, which allows the tortoise to blend into its environment. There are twelve pairs of marginal scutes and two supracaudals (the shell scutes above the tail). Their beak is moderately hooked and the upper head scales are small and irregular. Their longer and thicker tails in comparison to females can identify males. Pancake tortoises are small and typically reach a carapace length of about 6 inches and weigh about 1 pound. The size of the largest male carapace is a little over 6 inches and female’s carapace is 7 inches; height is about 1.5 inches.