Today’s animal is a stocky, sluggish, sizably-shelled titan: the Aldabra giant tortoise! The Aldabrachelys gigantea is found on the Aldabra island group north of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. Let’s learn more about this tortoise!
- Their shells are dark grey to black.
- Males’ shells can be up to 4 feet long and can weigh 550 lbs. or more.
- Their full lifespan is unknown, but they frequently reach up to 100 years in age.
- They are the largest animal of the Aldabra atoll.
Habitat and Diet
- These herbivores live in mangroves, dunes, and grasslands.
- They knock over trees and shrubs to create “tortoise turf:” areas of 20 different grasses and herbs that evolved due to the animal’s grazing habits.
- They can go without food or water for long periods of time.
- Aldabra giant tortoises are found living in herds or individually.
- Males will fight for breeding rights and territory.
- They forage most in the morning. During the hot part of the day, they dig burrows for shade.
- They sleep for up to 18 hours per day.
- By 1900, the Aldabra giant tortoise was the last of 18 similar species in its region.
- It is one of the first protected species. Charles Darwin and other scientists worked with the local government to protect them.
- The oldest known living land animal is a Seychelles giant tortoise, a subspecies of the Aldabra. Hatched in 1832, Jonathan is now blind and can’t smell but lives comfortably on St. Helena Island, west of Africa.