Top 10 Galapagos tortoise Facts, Size, Weight, Diet

Galapagos tortoise

You might have seen some gigantic animals on the geographic channels, and felt threatened by their enormous big size. Today, I am going to introduce you to an animal of a similar kind, you used to see at the geographic channel or maybe in movies. Its name is Galapagos tortoise. They are also known as “giant tortoises”. After reading this article, you would surely tell your friends how wonderful this tortoise is. So, let’s move further!

The fact behind its name

We have read about animals that are named for the habitat and the place where they used to live, but the fact that I am gonna tell you about this, it would really amaze you. This tortoise is not named on any place, but “the island” on which it lives, is named on it that is “Galapagos islands.” These islands were named on Galapagos tortoises that were used to live there. The word “Galapagos” means tortoise”.

Why are Galapagos tortoises called giants?

These are not the only tortoises that are called giants. Giant tortoises are specifically used for Galapagos island’s biggest tortoises, so there are some others besides this one. It is one of those biggest tortoises that are found in the Galapagos Islands. 

Galapagos tortoise 1

Galapagos tortoise classification

Let’s have a look at its classification: 

Scientific NameChelonoidis nigra complex
Order Testudines
SpeciesC. n. complex
Diet Herbivores
Lifespan 152 years
Weight227 kg
Incubation period 2 to 4 months
Trophic levelHerbivores
Length 4 – 6 feet

Two Types of Galapagos tortoise

There are several Galapagos islands, and each of these islands has Galapagos tortoise, but all of them are not identical but have different characteristics that help them survive on that certain island. Thus, Tortoises, through-out the Galapagos island, have different shells. Let’s have a look at them!

Dome-shaped Tortoise:

These tortoises were observed to have a domed shell with shorter necks, and lush pastures found in the areas with plenty of vegetation.  

Saddleback shells Tortoise:

Smaller tortoises with Saddleback shells, helping them out to access the vegetation such as cactus, grown at a level high above the ground.

Galapagos tortoise physical appearance

These tortoises have big shells, but they are not bulky, and light enough to support a tortoise-like walk. These tortoises have shells that are finely structured in the form of honeycombs that hold up small air chambers which play a role in making the shell weight lighter. As far as its body is concerned, it follows the same color which is sand-like brown and has some black spots. 

Galapagos tortoise size

Its other name “giant” clearly says that this tortoise has a very big massive giant size. But, if you want to know specifically that How big Galapagos tortoises get? An adult tortoise of this species can have a maximum length of 1.3m which is 4 feet and 3 inches. And ultimately! Some of them are also observed to have 5 feet in length.  Look How big it is! 

How fast do Galapagos tortoises grow?

These tortoises, genuinely speaking, grow at a very slow rate. There is not any specific figure of actually how fast it grows but according to research, it comes to know that it is fully grown at the age of 40 years. Its sex cannot be known until it becomes 15 years old and becomes sexually mature at the age of 20 to 25 years of age. 

Galapagos tortoise weight

Its enormous gigantic size, ultimately, makes it the most massive and weighted tortoise. Its weight differs from gender. Males can weigh up to more than 227 kg while females at the same time can weigh up to 113 kg. you would be wondering how it manages to hold up so much weight, but we can’t question nature and we shouldn’t as it’s large thick legs help it to hold up on its weight.

Galapagos tortoise

Galapagos tortoise diet

Having a look at its size, it makes it obvious that it needs a large amount of food. However, all of the day it spends resting but when it feels hungry it wakes up and fills up its belly. 

Galapagos tortoise diet list

Being a herbivore, it eats on grasses, cactus, flowers, lichens, barriers, oranges, melons, and leaves. Without having any teeth, they eat all of the food with their bony outer edges of the mouth. For these tortoises, red is their favorite color In food. Although, they don’t have a good nose sense thus they manage to trace the food only by their sharp eyes. 

What to feed your Galapagos tortoise?

So, if you have adopted this tortoise as a pet or for whatever reason, and you want to know about their diet, let me tell you about the diet adopted by several zoos that are having it. At the San Diego Zoo, food given to them consists of kale, mustard, collard and dandelion greens, Bok choy or Pok Choi, seasonal vegetables, and fruits. Water in a huge quantity though. However, they adopt moisture from food given to them.

Galapagos tortoise lifespan

These tortoises are known to be the most long-lived tortoises. But if u want to know exactly How long do Galapagos tortoises live? Then listen! These tortoises can live not only for more than 100 years but up to 170 years. In San Diego Zoo, the longest time period that has recorded until yet is 150 years old.

Population threat

For a long time, tortoises faced no threat, but this luck did not work after humans discovered them and ultimately, became the biggest threat to their life. Humans hunted them for food. Pigs took over their eggs and ate them. Since then their population has been decreasing.

Galapagos tortoise facts

  1. Female tortoises of this species are half the size of males tortoises.
  2. It can live up to 8 months without any drop of water going down its throat.
  3. They can walk at a speed of 0.16 miles per hour.
  4. They are famous for being one of the giant tortoises.
  5. Its egg can weigh up to 82 to 157 grams.

Galapagos tortoise extinct

They were illegally imported and sold. And ultimately their population stepped towards extinction. In 1959, the Ecuadorian govt. took the first action to rehabilitate it and created the Galapagos national park. Since then, many initiatives have been done by several organizations. Charles Darwin research station is one of them. 

Galapagos tortoise habitat

Several of the Galapagos islands are home to these tortoises. Most of them are found on the island of Espanola, Isabela, and Pinzon. It prefers to live in arid and dry lowlands but some tortoises with large necks also live in highland areas. Each island has its own distinct vegetation and environment. Most of the time it spends in relaxing in the direct sunlight as they are reptiles, so, it’s good for them.

Galapagos tortoise

Galapagos tortoise mating

When they become sexually matured at the age of 20 to 25, they start to mate. Their breeding season does not follow any rule of thumb but usually begins in between January and August. Males try hard to dominate, open up their mouth, stand on their legs. Males confront each other and head biting is a common event to occur. Longer-neck species are seen to be more aggressive while mating. 

Incubation period

Once mating is done successfully, mother Galapagos is ready to lay down eggs. But before this, it covers a long journey of several kilometers from July until November to locate the best nesting place. Once it finds the dry, sandy coast, using its hind legs, it burrows up to 30 cm deep. Then it lays eggs and the incubation period lasts 4 to 8 months. 

Galapagos tortoise baby

The temperature at which the incubation is done can tell whether the baby to be born is male or female. At lower temperatures, male babies are born and at high temperatures, more females are born. Once the incubation period is completed, hatchlings come out of their eggshells. 2 to 16 hatchlings are born per mating. it can take them up to one month to survive on their own. 

Galapagos tortoise humidity

The warmness of temperature should be between 80 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. These tortoises are resistant towards cold and thus known to be cold-intolerant so it’s really very important to keep their enclosure warm. 

Galapagos tortoise as a pet

These tortoises are currently registered as endangered species. So, the fact is, Can you legally own a Galapagos tortoise? Yes! If anyone wants to adopt them, it’s important to fill out some documentation. It requires some special permits which are issued by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. So, unfortunately! It’s not easy to have them as pets. But, however, some of the baby tortoises by some breeders are sold. 

Galapagos tortoise behavior

They are usually slow and move at leisurely places. Many people would think that they are the most lazy animals, but this is actually a part of their health maintenance, their body size requires it. 

Galapagos tortoise 4

Are Galapagos tortoises dangerous?

Due to their giant size, they genuinely look dangerous and they actually are! Their aggression is more dominant while mating and they even attack each other. 

Do Galapagos tortoise bite?

Yes! They can bite, and it’s not a big thing to do for them, but it occurs in severe cases with humans but in animals it’s common.

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