Giant Tortoise

Giant Tortoise

The Galapagos giant tortoise belongs to a complex of species called “Chelonoidis nigra Complex”, which houses a total of 10 species of land tortoises of the genus Chelonoidis.

Tortuga gigante de Galápagos
Autor: Maytenus Galapagos

Among all the species of land turtles that the Galapagos has, they include the largest in the world, reaching weights of more than 450 kg and lengths of more than 2 meters. It is worth mentioning that the Galapagos tortoises are one of the longest-lived vertebrates that exist, managing to live in the wild for up to 100 years and in captivity for up to 170 years.

Tortugas gigantes copulando
Autor: Maytenus Galapagos

3 basic shell forms can be found in Galapagos land turtles:

The first is shaped like a saddle, which It allows the neck to be stretched more than the rest of the turtles in order to feed on leaves that are found in high areas.

The second is with dome shape , the same that allows them move through dense vegetation without any problem.

And the third basic shell shape is the intermediate , which it has intermediate characteristics in the two ways mentioned above.

Tortuga gigante de Galápagos
Autor: Maytenus Galapagos

Where can I see the Galapagos giant tortoise?

As an interesting fact, it is worth mentioning that in the 17th century the Galapagos Islands were very frequently visited by buccaneers and pirates, the same ones who indiscriminately hunted land turtles for food. There is no exact figure, but it is estimated that during this century about 300 thousand turtles were killed.

Currently if you visit Santa Cruz Island, you can see giant tortoises in two places: first you could see turtles in the «Centro de Crianza Fausto Llerena», place in which they keep turtles under care but in full view of the people; and the second place is in the "El Chato" reserve, where you will see giant tortoises in their natural habitat.

If you want to know a little more about the animals you could find in the Galapagos, visit: Galapagos animals.

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