Giant tortoises are one of the longest-lived animals in the world. These long-necked tortoises are slow-moving reptiles. Most of the giant tortoise species of the Indian Ocean are now extinct and Aldabra Giant Tortoise is the only known surviving today. It is believed the first ancestors of giant tortoises appeared around 250 million years before. However, they began colonizing Galapagos Islands around 2 to 3 million years ago.
Broadly speaking, there are two main kinds of tortoises: saddle-back shell tortoises and the domed shell tortoises.
The upper shell of the aldabra giant tortoises is shaped like a dome. These tortoises have very long neck. The feet of these tortoises are flat with short legs.
Giant tortoises can grow as long as 130 centimeters and weigh up to 919 pounds.
On average, these tortoises have a lifespan of 80 to 120 years. However, few tortoises are known to live for about 250 years.
Giant tortoises reach maturity at 30 years of age. Generally, there is no specific breeding month of these tortoises. However, the peak mating season is between January and May.
A female saddle-back tortoise lays 2 to 7 eggs while the female of a domed shell tortoise lays 20 to 25 eggs in a clutch. The eggs are hatched after 110 to 175 days. In one breeding season, a female lays 1 to 4 clutches. A female aldabra giant tortoise lays a clutch size of 25 eggs. In one breeding season, these tortoises can reproduce more than 1 clutches. The eggs are hatched after 8 months.
These tortoises are native to the islands of Ecuador and Seychelles. They inhabit Galapagos Islands and Aldabra Atoll. Aldabra is one of the coral reefs among the islands of Seychelles. They occupy marshlands and meadows of these islands. In order to cool themselves, they are often found seeking shelter under the trees in shallow lagoons.
These tortoises are herbivorous reptiles. The primary diet of these tortoises consists of fruits, grasses and cactus pads. Apart from eating, they drink a lot of water.