Wild Fact #733 – One for the Ages – Aldabra Giant Tortoise

Photo by: Muhammad Mahdi Karim

Today we are all in for a very special treat.  I am sending everyone on a trip to the exotic islands of Aldabra in the Indian Ocean.  I know!  I am pretty excited too.  We are taking a quick trip there to learn about the Aldabra Giant Tortoise which just happens to be one of the largest tortoise species in the world. They are also one of the oldest. I will tell you how big and how old in a second as I want to keep the suspense up for a bit.

These wickedly, cool reptiles can be found in herds (or individually) hanging out in the grasslands or swampy areas of the aforementioned islands.  All right, I can’t handle the suspense any longer.  The Aldabra Giant Tortoise is approximately 1 m (3′) long and can weigh up to an astonishing 250 kg (550 lbs).  Believe it or not there is an Aldabra Giant Tortoise at the Fort Worth Zoological Park that weighs about 790 lbs.  I want to put this into perspective for everyone, a Grizzly Bear will usually weigh about 500 lbs with the larger bears being about 700 lbs.  Who would have thought that a Tortoise could weigh as much as a Grizzly Bear?  The Aldabra Giant Tortoise has a very large, domed shape carapace (shell) which is supported by strong, stocky legs. I am sure this large shell contributes to a good chunk of their weight.  This particular turtle also has a very long neck which allows them to feed on leaves approximately 1 m (3′) off the ground. Personally I am starting to think they are more closely related to a Giraffe than any other animal species.  Obviously I am kidding since the Giraffe is much heavier and much taller.

Giddy Up!!

So we now know that these Giant Tortoise species could probably use a few months on the Atkins diet.  Actually their diet of leaves and grass is probably pretty close to the Atkins diet.  Let’s find out just how long these giant beasts hang around for.  It is thought that many of these Tortoise species are over 200 years old.  The oldest living Aldabra Giant Tortoise was 255 years old and lived from 1750-2005.  I would like to put this amazing stat into perspective as well.  This particular tortoise named Adwaita lived to see the Industrial Revolution, Napoleonic Wars, American Revolution, War of 1812, two World Wars, the invention of the steam engine, the first flight and of course experienced some of the greats such as Darwin, Mozart, Beethoven and one of my favourites, Thomas Edison. Not to mention that the human population when Adwaita was born was probably under 1 billion people worldwide, which of course is about 7 times lower than it is now. I would have loved to have had a conversation with that Tortoise.

Aldabra Giant Tortoise – This particular species of Tortoise had some very powerful friends, such as Charles Darwin who managed to create a wildlife preserve by the end of the 19th Century so these timeless creatures would be protected.  I wonder if our good friend Adwaita helped with that movement?

That is all for today folks.  I hope you enjoyed the unusual history lesson. Enjoy the remainder of your beautiful day.

Photo from Wikimedia

2 Responses

  1. Aunt Linda 7 years ago
    • Nathan Nathan 7 years ago

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