How long do Aldabra turtles live
Geochelone gigantea Seychelles giant tortoise
What do Seychelles giant tortoises look like?
Seychelles giant tortoises belong to the class of reptiles. There they belong to the order of the turtles and to the family of tortoises.
They have the typical physique of all turtles: Only the four legs, neck and head protrude from under the mighty shell. The carapace is arched, broad and dark in color.
Male Seychelles turtles grow to be 100 to 120 centimeters long in the wild, some specimens even up to 150 centimeters.
The females are slightly smaller and usually only reach 80 centimeters. Very large adult animals weigh up to 250 kilograms.
The animals grow very quickly up to the age of about 40, after which they only increase in size very slowly.
Where do Seychelles giant tortoises live?
While their ancestors were widespread, the Seychelles giant tortoises are only found in the Seychelles and Mascarene Islands. The latter include the well-known islands of Mauritius and La Réunion.
Both the Seychelles and the Mascarene Islands are located in the Indian Ocean to the north and east of the island of Madagascar.
In the wild, Seychelles giant tortoises are now only found on the Aldabra Atoll, which is part of the Seychelles.
On the other islands, the animals have long been exterminated because they were very popular as food.
More Seychelles giant tortoises have been brought to other islands and live semi-wild there, while others live in zoos.
Seychelles giant tortoises can be found in grassland that is overgrown by individual trees. They are pure ground dwellers.
What species of Seychelles giant tortoise are there?
The tortoise family includes 39 different species. They are spread all over the world. Because turtles, like all reptiles, are cold-blooded animals, they only occur in warm climatic regions.
Of the giant tortoises, only two species have survived to our times: In addition to the Seychelles giant tortoise, this is the Galapagos giant tortoise, which only lives on the Galapagos Islands. These islands are about 1000 kilometers west of South America in the Pacific Ocean.
How old do Seychelles giant tortoises get?
Seychelles giant tortoises can live up to 200 years - making them one of the animals with the longest life expectancy.
It is known that the Queen of Tonga received a fully grown Seychelles giant tortoise as a gift in 1777.
This animal lived there until 1966, about 189 years.
How do Seychelles giant tortoises live?
The ancestors of the Seychelles giant tortoises already lived on earth at the time of the dinosaurs about 200 million years ago. Since then, the life of the giants has changed little.
The diurnal animals are very slow. They run around at a maximum speed of one kilometer per hour and spend a lot of time eating grass and other plants.
Because they cannot regulate their body temperature, they retreat to shady places in the midday heat so that their body does not overheat.
Since there are only a few trees that provide shade in the Seychelles, many turtles huddle under trees or in rock niches.
Sometimes they even lie on top of each other. The animals have no closer relationship with each other, but are loners. They have no fixed territories.
Seychelles giant tortoises are very peaceful giants. There is almost never a quarrel between the animals.
In the evening the turtles sleep where they are. They do not have any special sleeping places.
Unlike other turtle species, they do not pull their head and legs under the shell when they sleep, because otherwise they cannot breathe properly.
Friends and enemies of the Seychelles giant tortoise
Adult Seychelles giant tortoises have few enemies in the wild. There are several reasons why they were almost exterminated: In earlier centuries they were hunted in large numbers by seafarers because the living animals served as "meat stores" on the ships.
When dogs, cats, rats and pigs came to the islands with the European settlers, many eggs and young animals fell victim to them. Goats became competitors for the scarce plant food.
In addition, for a long time it was the custom on the Mascarene Islands to give a newly hatched turtle to every newborn girl. This then grew up and was slaughtered at the girl's wedding. However, this custom no longer exists today.
How do Seychelles giant tortoises reproduce?
The breeding season for the Seychelles giant tortoises is in the rainy season between November and April.
When mating, the otherwise calm animals suddenly show temperament: the males become very excited and emit rough, hoarse sounds that can be heard over a kilometer away.
Between May and August the females look for a suitable breeding site and dig a hole in the ground with their hind legs.
There they lay five to 25 eggs about the size of a tennis ball. Then they shovel the clutch back with their legs and guard it.
The turtle babies hatch after about 120 to 130 days.
Whether a female or male turtle hatches from an egg depends on the soil temperature: If it is relatively warm, females in particular hatch, if it is cooler, males in particular develop.
At first the newly hatched young remain in their earth nest. Then they dig their way to the surface of the earth. The boys are independent from the start. They only become sexually mature when they are 20 to 30 years old.
How do Seychelles giant tortoises communicate?
Seychelles giant tortoises hardly make any sounds.
Only when they feel threatened do they let out a hissing sound.
And the males make loud noises when mating.
What do Seychelles giant tortoises eat?
Seychelles giant tortoises have a great appetite: They graze on grass, eat leaves and fruit, and don't stop at fish and carrion.
On the Aldabra Islands, a special "turtle lawn" has formed, which consists of over 20 species of plants.
Because of the turtle grazing, these plants have evolved over time.
Seychelles giant tortoises do not drink by mouth, but through their nose.
This is an adaptation to the dry habitat.
Because there are hardly any rivers and lakes here and rainwater seeps away immediately, the animals can absorb even the smallest amounts of water from cracks in the rock through their nostrils.
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