Galapagos Tortoise Facts and Information

Chelonoidis nigra

Introduction to Galapagos Tortoise

The largest species of tortoise is the Galapagos Tortoise. They can grow to a size of up to 880 pounds. They can also be more than 6 feet long. They can have different sized and shaped shells depending on the region where they are located.

Galapagos Tortoise Description

This tortoise has a very high shell that is brown and light green in color. It blends extremely well with their surroundings. They can quickly place their head and appendages into that shell when they are hot or they feel that they are in danger. That shell is very large and it is very bony.

Class Reptilia
Order Testudines
Suborder Cryptodira
Family Testudinidae
Genus Chelonoidis
Conservation status Vulnerable

Galapagos Tortoise Distribution

The Galapagos Islands is the home of this species of tortoise which is where their name comes from. They tend to migrate seasonally from low elevations so that they are on the grassy plains when it is dry and then in the higher elevations when it is wet. They seem to use the same paths year after year. They have been coined the Tortoise Highways.

Galapagos Tortoise Behavior

The Galapagos Tortoise may spend several hours each morning basking in the sunlight. They move at a very slow and leisurely pace. Many would get the impression that it a very lazy creature but this is all part of them being able to maintain energy and to keep their body temperature where it should be. They have a very slow metabolism which is the case for all species of the tortoise.

Galapagos Tortoise Facts

Galapagos Tortoise – Chelonoidis nigra

Galapagos Tortoise Feeding

There are plenty of types of food that the Galapagos Tortoise consumes. They include berries, lichen, leaves, cactus, and grass. They can consume up to 80 pounds of food per day. Since they eat so slowly it can take them many hours per day to be able to complete this part of their survival. Yet the fact that so much of the food they eat lacks real nutrition it doesn’t take long before they are hungry once again.

They have a very slow metabolism though and that means they can go for long periods of time without food or water. The longest period of time recorded and verified was about 18 months. They will drink large amounts of water when it is available though and then store it up for use later.

Galapagos Tortoise Reproduction

This species of tortoise can mate any time of the year. They tend to do so though when it is wet or humid versus when it is hot and dry. The males can be very aggressive with each other in order to win the right to mate with available females. Their fights can include biting and last for many hours before one leaves in defeat.

After mating the female makes a long journey to a high location where she can safely deposit her eggs. She has to get them high enough that they won’t be in danger of flooding. She will dig a nest and place up to 16 eggs into it and then cover it up. A female can offer up to 4 clutches per season.

The young will remain in that nest for a period of time that ranges from 4 to 8 months. It depends on the temperatures. The hotter it gets the sooner they will emerge. High numbers of eggs though will be dug up and consumed by various predators. A high number or the young that do hatch will be consumed by birds and other predators as they make their way from the nest to the water.

In the wild the Galapagos Tortoise can live up to 100 years. In captivity some have lived up to 150 years.

Galapagos Tortoise Information

Galapagos Tortoise Facts and Information


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