This is another small (to 10.9 cm) tortoise with a slightly domed but dorsally flattened carapace, smooth posterior rim, and a small cervical scute. A slight anterior indentation is present. The vertebrals are all broader than long, the 5th is flared. The vertebral and pleural scutes are flattened with depressed areolae; carapacial sutures are not particularly deep. There are 11-12 marginals on each side and the supracaudal is undivided. The carapace is chestnut-brown to reddish brown with olive tinges in older individuals. Scute areolae may be pale and the scute borders dark. The hingeless plastron is large, and its anterior lobe is truncated. The bridge is somewhat rounded with a well-defined ridge that is not found in H. boulengeri. The plastral formula is variable, but normally resembles that of H. boulengeri: abd > hum > pect >< fem >< an > gul. The single large inguinal scute on the bridge touches both the abdominal and femoral scutes. Plastral coloration is light brown to greenish brown with dark seam borders. The head is of moderate size with a nonprojecting snout and a slightly tricuspid, hooked upper jaw. Head scalation is similar to that of H. boulengeri. The head and limbs are brown to reddish brown. Each forelimb has five claws, and is covered anteriorly with large overlapping scales.
The smaller males have slightly concave plastra, narrower carapaces, and longer tails than females.
This tortoise occurs in southern Africa from the vicinity of Aus, Namibia, west to Lüderitz.
Barren granitic mountains with sparse vegetation in the Namib Desert, and grasslands on the Aus escarpment (Homopus “bergeri” biotope) (Branch, 1989c).
Prolonged successful captive breeding has occurred in an outdoor enclosure in Namibia. Mating behavior includes head bobbing of the male; combat between males has never been observed. Nests of approximately 6 cm depth are excavated in winter and spring, mainly under protecting rocks or shrubs, or in hollow rocks. A clutch consists of a single 37-41 x 26-28 mm egg; occasionally two eggs are laid (Victor Loehr, pers. comm.). At an incubation temperature of 28-32°C, the egg hatches after less than 104 days. Hatchling size and mass is 27-40 mm and 9-14 g respectively (Schleicher and Loehr, in prep.).
Branch (1989c) reported it is a good climber, and that possible food plants include Grielum, Heliochrysum, Limeum, Pellaea, Wahlenbergia, and Zygophyllum. In captivity, this species is not a dainty feeder (Schleicher and Loehr, in prep.).
This valid species was removed from the synonymy of H. boulengeri by Boycott (1986), but Branch (1992) has reported that the holotype of H. bergeri Lindholm, 1906 is in reality a specimen of Psammobates tentorius verroxii. Consequently, the name Homopus bergeri Lindholm, 1906 is a synonym of P. t. verroxii, and a new name must be proposed for this turtle. This is currently in preparation (William R. Branch, pers. comm.).
IUCN Red List Status (1996)