The Galápagos Tortoise

Although Galápagos tortoises are huge animals that weigh several hundred pounds, their shells are not solid. Instead, they are made up of honeycomb structures that hold small air chambers. This makes the shell lighter and easier for the tortoise to carry. The large tortoise is up to 6 feet long and 4 to 5 feet across.

These tortoises inhabit the Galápagos Islands, off the coast of Ecuador. Each of the 13 larger islands in the Galápagos Islands has a different subspecies of the giant tortoise, uniquely suited for survival on that particular island’s habitat. Their natural habitats consist of Fat, grassy areas and rocky, volcanic outcroppings.

The Galápagos tortoise eats cactus, fruit, flowers, leaves, and grasses.

The tortoises lay eggs. A hatchling weighs about 3 ounces at birth, but can grow to 500 pounds. With lifespans in the wild of over 100 years, it is one of the longest-lived vertebrates. A captive individual lived at least 170 years.

As people made homes on the Galápagos Islands, they brought animals such as rats, dogs, and cats, which eat tortoise eggs and young tortoises. This caused the number of tortoises on the islands to drop. Today, there are only about 10,000 to 15,000 tortoises living on the islands.
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