- Second only to the Galapagos tortoise in the world.
- Native to Aldabra Island, one of the Seychelles northeast of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.
- Aldabra tortoise is the only remaining species out of 18 former species of tortoise that once flourished on the islands of the Indian Ocean.
- The others went extinct because of hunting by sailors and the predation of eggs and hatchlings by introduced species such as rats, cats, and pigs.
- Carapace has a small neck plate that is usually visible, a feature absent in other species of giant tortoises.
- Male’s carapace length – can measure 4 feet
Weigh up to 250 kilograms
> Female’s carapace length – can measure 3 feet
Weigh up to 159 kilograms.
> Males are considerably larger than females and have longer thicker tails.
> Males have a concave plastron (belly shell)
- Are one of the more social tortoise species.
- Males will fight with one another for breeding rights.
- Can reach ages of over 150 years
Ecological Roles – Similar to elephants in Asia and Africa
Habitats – scrub, mangrove swamp, coastal dunes and the largest concentration is found in the grasslands called platins.
- Elephants are the main consumers of vegetation and will noticeably alter the habitat during their search for food.
- Tortoises have been known to knock over small trees and shrubs to obtain nutritious leaves. Seeds pass through the tortoise’s digestive tract and eventually become food for many other species.
- This species is protected in order to ensure its survival for the future. Charles Darwin and other notable conservationists of the day along with the governor of Mauritius set aside a captive breeding population on Mauritius as well as protecting the Aldabra Atoll.