The Gentle Giant Tortoise

The giant tortoise lives on islands near the equator in the Pacific Ocean and in the Indian Ocean.

These tortoises live a long, long time. It might be that a giant tortoise on the Galapagos islands today was alive when Charles Darwin visited in 1831.

These gentle giants grow for about 40 years and can mate only when they are about 25 years old. They lay only 2-16 eggs at one time, so when their numbers are low, like they are now, it can take a long time to build them up again.

The giants lived peacefully without predators until people began to visit. Many tortoises were eaten by humans. But people also brought dogs and rats that loved to eat tortoise eggs. People also brought goats and cows that eat the grass that tortoises need. Today it's hard to be a giant tortoise in the wild.

Two Tortoise Homes

Today giant tortoises live in two areas.

The Galapagos Tortoise

The largest of the giants lives on the Galapagos Islands that belong to Ecuador. Each type of Galapagos giant tortoise lives in a limited range on the islands. The shape of their shells is adapted to the sort of island home they live on.

The Aldabra Tortoise

The largest group of giant tortoises lives on the Aldabra Atoll. There, about 100,000 live protected by The Nature Protection Trust of the Seychelles. The numbers keep growing because there is a good breeding program.

Keep it slow and steady.

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