The Aldabra Gigantic Tortoise is a giant tortoise native to the Indian Ocean’s Aldabra Islands. The Aldabra giant tortoise is one of the world’s largest tortoise species, as well as one of the world’s longest-lived creatures, with one Aldabra Giant Tortoise individual surviving to be 255 years old. The Aldabra Giant Tortoise is the only living giant tortoise species in the Indian Ocean, while other species have become extinct as a result of human settlement (including the Seychelles Giant Tortoise which is now thought to be extinct in the wild). The Aldabra Giant Tortoise and the Seychelles Giant Tortoise are so similar in look and behaviour that some people mistake them for one species.
Aldabra Giant Tortoise Scientific Classification
Scientific Name: Geochelone gigantea
Conservation Status: Vulnerable
Aldabra Giant Tortoise Facts
Prey: Grasses, Leaves, Flowers
Name Of Young: Hatchling
Group Behavior: Herd
Fun Fact: One got to be 255 years old!
Estimated Population Size: 200,000
Biggest Threat: Habitat loss
Most Distinctive Feature: Large, high-domed shell
Other Name(s): Giant Tortoise
Incubation Period: 8 months
Age Of Independence: 3 – 6 months
Habitat: Grasslands and swamps
Predators: Giant Crab, Humans, Cats
Common Name: Aldabra Giant Tortoise
Number Of Species: 1
Location: Aldabra atoll in the Indian Ocean
Average Clutch Size: 15
Slogan: One got to be 255 years old!
Aldabra Giant Tortoise Physical Characteristics
Colour: Brown, Black, Tan
Skin Type: Scales
Top Speed: 0.3 mph
Lifespan: 80 – 255 years
Weight: 150kg – 250kg (330lbs – 550lbs)
Length: 90cm – 120cm (3ft – 4ft)
Age of Sexual Maturity: 20 – 30 years
Aldabra Giant Tortoise Anatomy and Appearance
The Aldabra Giant Tortoise possesses a massive dome-shaped shell that protects the Aldabra Giant Tortoise’s fragile, vulnerable body below. They also has a long neck that it utilises to pluck leaves off higher-up tree branches. The male Aldabra Giant Tortoise grows to reach 1.1 metres long on average, while females are somewhat smaller at 0.9 metres. Males are reported to weigh over 100 kg more than females, while not being significantly larger. They are slow-moving creatures with thick, short legs and round, almost flat feet that aid them in sand walking.
Distribution and Habitat
The Aldabra Giant Tortoise is predominantly found on the grasslands and marshes of the Aldabra atoll (a coral island that partly or fully encircles a lagoon), which is part of the Seychelles island chain in the Indian Ocean. They used to share these islands with a variety of other gigantic tortoise species, but many were driven to extinction in the 1700s and 1800s. Although the Aldabra Giant Tortoise prefers lush, low-lying vegetation, when food is scarce, it has been observed to travel into more barren, rocky places. In the heat of the day, the Aldabra Giant Tortoise can be seen sleeping in the shade or cooling off in a very small pool of water.
Behaviour and Lifestyle
Individual Aldabra Giant Tortoises can be found as well as herds, which congregate primarily on wide grasslands. The Aldabra Giant Tortoise is most active in the mornings, when they spend the majority of their time looking for food before the temperature rises too high. To stay cool during the day, they are known to dig subterranean tunnels or rest in wetlands. Despite its slowness and caution, they are believed to be disinterested in human presence, implying that one of the reasons they were so simple to hunt for Human settlers was simply because these creatures had no fear of them.
Reproduction and Life Cycles
Female Aldabra Giant Tortoises lay up to 25 rubbery eggs in a dry, shallow nest on the ground between February and May, rendering them particularly vulnerable to imported predators. Female Aldabra Giant Tortoises are considered to be capable of producing more than one brood each year, which hatch after an 8-month incubation period. The young Aldabra Giant Tortoises usually emerge in a two-week period that corresponds to the start of the rainy season. They are slow-growing reptiles that seldom achieve sexual maturity until they are between the ages of 20 and 30. Although some people have been known to live for more than 250 years, the majority of people live between the ages of 80 and 120.
Diet and Prey
The Aldabra Giant Tortoise is a herbivorous species that spends much of its time searching for food in its lush surroundings. They are reported to be found in areas known as “Tortoise Turf,” which is a grass and herb-rich region with over 20 distinct grass and herb species. Aldabra Giant Tortoises are also known to consume leaves, fruits, and berries from the surrounding flora, reaching up on their hind legs to munch on the delicacies somewhat higher up. With the introduction of domestic animals to the islands, one of the largest blows to the species was competition for food that wasn’t previously available. Goats are notorious for grazing fast, chowing down on huge swaths of the Tortoise’s natural habitat.
Predators and Threats
Adult Aldabra Giant Tortoises were considered to have no predators in the wild due to their enormous size and natural absence of animal predators (the more vulnerable and smaller young are said to have been hunted by a giant species of Crab that lives in burrows on the atoll). Human settlers, on the other hand, introduced predators in the form of domesticated animals like as dogs and goats, which both preyed on and ate the Aldabra Giant Tortoise’s food. Today, habitat loss from expanding human settlements is the greatest threat to the Aldabra Giant Tortoise, with climate change becoming an increasingly serious concern in the future.
Interesting Facts and Features
To far, the Aldabra Giant Tortoise has been given four scientific names, owing to ongoing debates over its resemblance to other big Indian Ocean tortoise species, notably the potentially extinct Seychelles Giant Tortoise. Despite the fact that population numbers have decreased due to hunting, habitat degradation, and the introduction of new predators, climate change is one of the most serious threats to the Aldabra Giant Tortoise. Because the islands where these Tortoises dwell are only a few metres above sea level, they are in grave danger from rising floods.
Relationship with Humans
Prior to the 1700s, there were no serious predators or food competitors for the Aldabra Gigantic Tortoise, and all populations of the different giant Tortoise species were considered to be robust. The people who came on the islands, on the other hand, discovered the Tortoises and their eggs to be simple to capture and kill, as well as fairly edible, and widespread hunting wiped off virtually all of them in less than a century. Domestic animals that arrived with people ate the Aldabra Giant Tortoise, especially its ground-dwelling eggs, which were particularly susceptible. They’ve also lost a lot of their native habitat as the atoll’s human settlements have grown.
Conservation Status and Life Today
They are now classified as a Vulnerable to Extinction in the Wild animal. However, after being designated as a World Heritage Site, the Aldabra atoll is now protected from human impact and is home to 152,000 Aldabra Giant Tortoises, the world’s biggest population of the animal. Another isolated population of Aldabra Giant Tortoises may be found on the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar, while captive populations can be found on Mauritius and Rodrigues. The captive breeding programmes on these islands are intended to help the species recover, and populations on the islands appear to be doing well now.
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