Galapagos tortoise

Galapagos Tortoise

Chelonoidis nigra

CLASS Reptilia | ORDER Testudines | FAMILY Testudinidae

RANGE Galápagos Islands, 600 miles west of Ecuador

HABITAT Open, grassy areas to rocky, volcanic outcrops

DIET Prickly pear cactus and fruits; flowers, leaves, and grasses

Males up to 575 lbs
Females up to 300 lbs

Head to Tail
Up to 6 ft

Shell Length
4 - 5 ft

85 - 200 days

2 - 16 eggs

IUCN Status
Galapagos tortoise

Galapagos tortoises are the largest living tortoises in the world, and can live to be over 100 years old. These giant tortoise weigh 3 ounces at hatching.

They are slow-moving animals, moving only 0.16 miles per hour. This species is diurnal (active during the day).

Galapagos tortoise

Their shells are made up of honeycomb structures that enclose small air chambers. This makes it possible for the tortoises to carry the weight of the shell. The shell does not have a hinge.

Their lower jaws are covered by horny ridges with serrated edges that help them cut through tough plants.

Galapagos tortoise

These giant tortoise were nearly wiped out by sailors who killed them for food. Laws are now in place to protect this species.

Today, the greatest threats to the tortoises come from introduced nonnative species to the islands, such as rats, dogs, and cats, which eat tortoise eggs and young tortoises. Also goats and cattle compete with them for available food.