Galapagos Giant Tortoise Eggs

If you looked into a nest of galapagos giant tortoise eggs, you would see 2 to 16 eggs that look a lot like tennis balls. But if you touched them, you would find that they have hard shells.

The galapagos tortoise mates sometime from June to December. Any time between November and April, the mother makes her nest. She finds dry sandy ground, often near the beach, and digs a hole.

She can't see the hole because she digs with her strong back legs. It can take her many hours, maybe even days, to finish the nest. The nest will be about 30 cm or 1 foot deep.

When she has laid her eggs, she covers them over. Then she mixes sand and urine into a sort of plug to seal in her eggs.

Then, like other reptiles, she goes away. She will never know which tortoises she meets later are her own babies.

A galapagos hatchling and an unfertilized egg
Photo by Dr. Samuel Furrer
Zoo Zurich
Galapagos giant tortoise egg and hatchling
Inside their eggs, the baby tortoises are growing. Temperature is important. Cooler temperatures produce male tortoises. Warmer temperatures produce female tortoises. But no one can tell the males from the females until the tortoises are about 15 years old.

The tortoises grow inside their eggs for 4 to 8 months. When the galapagos giant tortoise eggs hatch, the hatchlings begin to dig their way out of the nest. That can take a month.

A full grown galapagos tortoise can weigh more than 225 kg or 500 pounds and be almost 2 m or 6 feet long. But the hatchlings weigh about 80 g or 2.8 ounces and are only 6 cm or 2.4 inches long. If you grew as much as a galapagos tortoise, you would weigh almost 8500 kg or about 9 tons as an adult!

Most tortoises and turtles lay many more eggs than the galapagos tortoise does. Predators kill most of the eggs or hatchlings. Hundreds of years ago there were no predators for the galapagos tortoise. When people started visiting the Galapgos Islands, the people brought animals that like to eat the eggs and the hatchlings.

Now people have to help the hatchlings to live long enough to grow up so they can have their own babies. That takes 40 years!

From Galapagos Giant Tortoise Eggs to Tortoise Facts

Keep it slow and steady.

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