Native to Aldabra Island, and introduced to the Seychelles and other nearby islands
Grassland, scrub areas, and mangrove swamps. Trees and bushes are needed for shelter from the sun. Also, freshwater or saline pools and mud-holes are used to cool off.
The carapace is thick, elongated, and domed, but not particularly strong. In some individuals it is more saddle-backed. They are gray to brownish gray in coloring. The males are larger than the females. The males also have longer, thicker tails. The front side of the forelimbs are covered with large, somewhat rounded, non-overlapping scales. The young grow rapidly, reaching lengths of 18 - 22 inches in 4 years. In 25 years they are fully grown.
Giant tortoises are slow moving, non-aggressive animals. Most of their time is spent foraging. They are both grazers in the dry open areas and browsers in the wooded and scrub areas. Although the tortoises are primarily vegetarians, they will eat decaying flesh of land crabs and other tortoises that have died. They appear to be attracted to red-colored foods. Paths to and from their favorite feeding and drinking areas are scraped into the soil by the massive shells.
Aldabra tortoises mate from February to May each year. Nesting occurs from June through September (during the dry season) at dusk or in the night, which keeps the females from overheating. If the soil is deep enough, nests of approximately 12 inches deep are excavated. Depending of the population density, females will lay 4 - 14 eggs per clutch. The almost spherical eggs have brittle shells and hatch 98 - 200 days later.
|Weight:||Up to 500 pounds|
|Average Lifespan:||55 years|
|Wild Diet:||Leaves, grasses, and cactus. Does eat decayed flesh|
|Predators:||Man uses these tortoises for food; domestic animals (introduced to the islands) destroy eggs and hatchlings|
|USFWS Status:||Not Listed|
|CITES Status:||Appendix II|
|Where at the Zoo?||Small Animal Building: Outside Yard|