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.
Giant tortoise are Aldo found on the Galapagos Island and some are well over 100 years old.