Giant Tortoise

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Giant Tortoise
Galapagos Giant Tortoise

Galapagos giant tortoises live in the scrub forests, savannas, and grasslands of the Galapagos Islands. Aldabra giant tortoises inhabit the mangrove swamps, scrub forests, and coastal dunes of the Aldabra Atoll in the Indian Ocean. Both species feed mainly on leaves, grasses, and wood, and live to be over 100 years old.


Content List

1. Scientific & Common Names

2. Characteristics

a. Breeding

b. Behavior

3. History

4. Present Status

5. References


Scientific & Common Names

TKingdom - Animalia

Phylum - Chordata

Class - Sauropsida

Order - Testudines

Suborder - Cryptodira

Family - Testudinidae

Genera - Chelonoidis

Species - C. nigra

Common Names - Galapagos Giant Tortoise, Giant Tortoise. The Aldabra Giant Tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea) is also called the Giant Tortoise.


Characteristics

Both species of giant tortoises have short, stubby legs and a thick shell. They are gray or black in color and have long necks that help them reach branches. Galapagos giant tortoises measure an average of 4 feet in length and weigh an average of 475 pounds as adults. Aldabra giant tortoises weigh between 352 and 550 pounds and measure between 35 and 55 inches in length.


Breeding

Galapagos giant tortoises breed between January and August, while Aldabra giant tortoises breed between February and May. Females lay an average of 10 eggs, although the Aldabra species can lay up to 25 eggs at a time. Once the eggs have been laid in a nest, the females leave their young to hatch and fend for themselves.


Behavior

Galapagos giant tortoises travel in groups to volcanic highlands for feeding and swimming and spend the cooler hours of the day resting in the lowland regions. Aldabra giant tortoises only spend about four hours a day eating, walking, and stretching. They spend the remainder of their time at rest. When threatened, both species pull their head into their shell.


History

Giant tortoises used to be found in their natural habitats in greater abundance, but their numbers have declined significantly over the years.


Present Status

Both species of giant tortoises are officially classified as Vulnerable, although Galapagos giant tortoises are in danger of extinction. The main threats to these species include human poaching and the presence of invasive species, such as wild pigs and goats, which removes vegetation and leaves nests exposed to predators. Conservation efforts for both species have gained increasing support in recent years.


References

   http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Chelonoidis_nigra/
   http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Dipsochelys_dussumieri/
   http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/reptiles/galapagos-tortoise/