interesting facts about the galapagos tortoises

12 Facts about the Galapagos Tortoise

The Galapagos tortoise is one of the most fascinating creatures to continue walking the Earth.  As such, it is hugely protected!  As its name suggests, it resides in the Galapagos Islands – and while there are thought to be 15 different types of tortoise in its lineage, only 11 of them remain.

If you’re interested in learning more about this threatened species, make sure to read up on these fun facts about the Galapagos Tortoise below to get yourself better acquainted.

  1. Galapagos tortoises are kings and queens of endurance. They are able to survive for around a year without drinking or eating.  This makes them a hugely unique species.
  2. They are also famously some of the longest-living creatures on the planet. It’s thought that a Galapagos tortoise will live for up to 100 years or more.  What’s their secret?
  3. Galapagos tortoises generally weigh between 250lbs and 600lbs. Males will generally weigh up to 500lbs average, while females weigh half this.

facts about Galapagos Tortoise

  1. Galapagos tortoises’ shells are actually made up of air chambers. This means that their shells are likely to be much lighter than they appear.  Even so, they’re probably a fair weight to hoist up on your back!
  2. Believe it or not, the gender of Galapagos tortoises can differ depending on sand temperature. If a mother tortoise lays her eggs in cooler sand, males will likely hatch.  The warmer the sand, the more females are likely to hatch.
  3. Galapagos tortoises are, of course, well-known for being slow walkers. However, at the height of mating season, they are known to traverse as much as eight miles in a two day period!  That’s quicker than most tortoises elsewhere are likely to move.
  1. Galapagos tortoises’ shells are built into their skeleton. It can take up to 25 years for a full shell to develop, but they are never under threat of losing their hideaways.
  2. Galapagos tortoises won’t generally start reproducing until their 20s.
  3. The Galapagos islands are named after the tortoises, not the other way around! That’s because the word ‘galapago’ roughly translates to ‘tortoise’ from Spanish.  Therefore, we’re going around calling them ‘tortoise tortoises’!

Close up of a Galapagos Tortoise

  1. As mentioned in the introduction, there were once 15 different species of Galapagos tortoise. This dates back to Charles Darwin first recording them in the 1800s.  However, they have since been hunted down to a threatened state.  There are thought to be just 15,000 left in the wild, despite conservation efforts.
  2. Galapagos tortoises continue to face threats from local predators, which does not help their status in the wild. Their eggs are food for many species such as rats, goats and even dogs and cats.
  3. Galapagos tortoises ‘fight’ in perhaps the most pacifistic way possible. They will simply square up and try to make themselves look bigger than their opponents!  The bigger tortoise, of course, is the winner – and there are no bruises, scuffs or bloodshed.  Can’t we all settle or differences this way?  We have a lot to learn!

Do you know any fun facts about Galapagos Tortoises?  Share them in the comments below!

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This page was last modified on September 29, 2021. Suggest an edit

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