Galapagos Tortoise
Geochelone nigra

CLASS: Reptilia
ORDER: Testudines
FAMILY: Testudinidae

Can grow up to 4 1/4 feet in length

Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador

Volcanic islands, semiarid lowlands to moist uplands

Wild - Grasses, forbs, cacti, succulents, sedges, fruits, leaves
Zoo - Tortoise chow, apples, oranges, carrots, bananas, sweet potatoes, lettuce

Large uniformly black, dark brown, or gray tortoise. The carapace varies from domed and round to saddle-shaped. The shell does not have a hinge. The gular scute is divided but does not strongly project forward. The tail is not flattened and lacks an enlarged terminal scale. The snout is blunt, with round nostrils.


  • Active by day
  • Males very vocal during courtship
  • They allow Darwin's finches to glean parasites from their bodies

Breed from December to August, then lay from 2-19 eggs from June to December. Young hatch from 85-200 days later. Young are small and grow slowly.

Vulnerable on the IUCN Red list. Protected. One subspecies is extinct, 2 more are extinct in the wild, 4 are vulnerable, 4 are endangered, and 1 is critically endangered due to predation from rats, dogs, cats, and pigs, all of which were brought to the islands by man.

Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, 2nd. ed., Vol. 7 Reptiles. Michael Hutchins ed.