Aldabra Giant Tortoise
The Aldabra giant tortoise lives in open grassy areas with trees and bushes, scrubland and mangrove swamps, on the islands of the Aldabra atoll in the Seychelles.
Our group feed on a mixture of vegetation, including grass, browse and plants.
In the wild they feed primarily on vegetation, but they are opportunistic and will also feed on invertebrates and carrion.
Giant tortoises are known for their slowness of movement and are believed to be one of the longest living animals in the world. They are active by day, basking for periods of time when it is warm. There is no strict hierarchy and individuals can live happily in groups or be solitary.
Sexual maturity is determined by size rather than age. On average, sexual maturity is reached at around 30 years old. Incubation and the sex of the offspring depends on the temperature. In warm temperatures eggs hatch in about 110 days, whereas they take 250 days to hatch in cool temperatures. Males develop at lower temperatures (20-27 degrees), and females at higher temperatures (30+ degrees).
Breeding season is February to May, and in the wild females lay 4 to 14 eggs. In zoos they may lay around 9 to 25 eggs.
The Aldabra Atoll is protected by the Seychelles Islands Foundation. There are some conservation breeding programmes mainly on the Seychelles and Mauritius, to protect this species and ensure its survival. Their current threats include climate change, habitat destruction and hunting.
Our group of five giant tortoises were confiscated by Customs from an illegal importation and arrived at Paignton Zoo back in 1986.
- Latin Name: Geochelone gigantea
- Class: Reptiles
- Order: Chelonia
- Family: Testudinidae
- Conservation status: Vulnerable
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