We have all seen tortoises before, whether in real life or in documentaries, and there is no denying that every species is wonderful in its own right! But no tortoise is quite as impressive as a Galapagos tortoise! These incredible creatures are pretty hefty critters, have long lifespans, and despite being ancient, are always pretty adorable. Here are some fun facts about Galapagos tortoises!
1. Where are Galapagos tortoises from?
As you might well have guessed from the name, Galapagos tortoises are native to the Galapagos Islands. They’re found in the Pacific Ocean.
2. Move over Godzilla!
Galapagos tortoises are absolutely giant! In fact, they are the largest tortoise species in the world! Some Galapagos tortoises reach lengths of over five feet (1.5 meters), and can also weigh up to 900 pounds (400 kilograms)! Try moving one out of the way at your peril!
3. Tortoises that can outlive us!
If you want a lifelong friend, nothing beats a Galapagos tortoise! They have a long lifespan, often exceeding 100 years old. Unsurprisingly, they are known to be one of the longest-lived vertebrates on the planet – the things they’ve seen!
4. They come in all shapes and sizes.
One of the most intriguing things about Galapagos tortoises is that they have no set size or shape! Their size and shell shape actually depends on the island they inhabit. They typically carry a dome shape shell if they live in humid highlands, or a more flattened shape if they live in arid lowlands.
5. They’re herbivores!
Given their impressive size, Galapagos tortoises can seem a little scary to some! But don’t worry, they are herbivores. This means that they feed on a variety of plants, grasses, and cacti. You’re safe from a tortoise-shaped nibble, we promise!
6. They’re champion dieters.
Galapagos tortoises are pretty resilient! They can survive for lengthy periods without any food or water, which allows them to withstand the harsh conditions of their environment. Now that’s a metabolism we can be jealous of.
7. Water carriers… but not necessarily Aquarians!
Incredibly, Galapagos tortoises can store large amounts of water in their bodies. This is how they can survive for so long in arid environments where fresh water sources are scarce!
8. Darwinism and Galapagos tortoises are long-linked.
There is a strange link between Charles Darwin and Galapagos tortoises! His observations of the Galapagos beasts played a pivotal role in the lengthy development of his theory of evolution by natural selection. After all, how could something so lumbering and gentle have survived for so long?
9. They’re in decline.
Sadly, Galapagos tortoises are significantly declining in numbers primarily due to human activities. These include hunting, habitat destruction, and the introduction of invasive species. Conservation efforts are underway on a grand scale to protect and restore their populations, and we all must do our part!
10. Who was Lonesome George?
Lonesome George was a famous Galapagos tortoise known as the last surviving member of the Pinta Island subspecies, hence his sad name. His death in 2012 highlighted the importance of conservation efforts to protect these unique creatures!
FAQs about the Galapagos Tortoise
Why are Galapagos tortoises so big?
Although a simple answer would be “nature,” they is actually a popular hypothesis regarding the size of the Galapagos tortoise! It is believed that since they were not hunted as prey, they were able to grow much larger than other tortoise species! That’s evolution in play, as Darwin would tell us.
How many Galapagos tortoises are left in the world?
It is believed that there are about 15,000 Galapagos tortoises left in the wild today. That is why it is so vital right now to do all that we possibly can to help save this incredible species and as many of its subspecies as possible!
Are Galapagos tortoises friendly?
Although some tortoise and turtle species are known for being a bit “snappy”, Galapagos tortoises are known for being particularly friendly! They even like stretching out their necks to let you scratch them! We’d advise you be careful around any wild animals, however – as they’re not domesticated pets and won’t always appreciate the attention!
Do you know any fun facts about the galapagos tortoise? Share them in the comments below!