The Galapagos Tortoise can weigh over 500 pounds and measure 6 feet from head to tail.
It is a very slow-moving animal, moving only 0.16 miles per hour. The Galapagos giant tortoise has a very large shell made of bone.
Among some Giant Tortoise facts we can mention that its shell can be domed, saddle-backed, or somewhere in between. Domed shells are found on tortoises that live in areas with lush vegetation.
Saddle-back shells allow the Galapagos tortoise to reach vegetation higher off the ground. This shell is more common in areas with less vegetation.
The Galapagos Giant Tortoises, belong to the species Geochelone elephantopus and are vegetarians, they eat mostly prickly pear cactus and fruits, bromeliads, water ferns, leaves, and grasses.
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The Galapagos tortoise has a good sense of smell and smells all of its food before eating it. They have tremendous water storage capacities, enabling them to survive the long arid season. (more than a year without any food or water).
Turtles on the Galapagos Island's Archipelago mature at 20-25 years of age. Compared to most tortoises, the birth rate of tortoises in Galapagos is extremely low.
Most tortoises can lay hundreds of eggs at a time. However, the Galapagos tortoise only lays between 2 and 16 eggs.
These eggs are laid in a hole dug by the mother. Then they are buried for incubation. The mother leaves, and the eggs hatch 4-8 months later.
It takes the baby tortoises one month to dig out of the nest. When the Islands were discovered there were around 14 or 15 species of turtles, all of them endemics of the Galapagos.
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After the arrival of the whalers 3 or 4 races of turtles were extinguished forever. This "hunting of turtles" continued until the beginning of the 20 th century, when they were murdered to get their oil.
Additionally the introduction of domestic animals that fed of the same vegetables and that also consumed their eggs helped to reduce dramatically their number.
As a result today we just find 10,000 to 15,000 turtles on the Galapagos Island, and only the ones in the Islands of Santa Cruz and Isabella have big populations.
Nobody knows exactly how long these tortoises can live, but there is a popular belief that they can reach 100 and inclusive more than 150 years old.
To avoid the extinguish of the giant Galapagos turtles, the biologists from Charles Darwin Research Station began to capture the survivors and put them in captivity and started the breeding for reproductive purposes.
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