During the few months I spent around Australia Zoo in 2015 I decided to do as many of their animal experiences as possible! One of those experiences saw come face to face with a gentle giant of the reptile world, the Aldabra Tortoise!
Once they’ve reached sexual maturity at around 20 – 25 years old, they stand a metre high and weigh around 300 kilo’s (kilograms) making them one of the world’s largest species of Tortoise!
WHERE ARE THEY FROM?!
Despite the ones that I met living down under, in the wild they can actually be found on the Aldabra Atoll, which is a small group of coral islands in the island nation of Seychelles, north of Madagascar. With each island comes a whole new habitat, so these guys are pretty good when it comes to adapting! Depending on the island, they’ll be found living in:
THEY’RE ALMOST IMMORTAL!
I always like to think that animals have their own unique superpower, like superheroes depending on the species. With certain species or Tortoise, especially the larger ones, they can live an incredible amount of time! The average Aldabra Tortoise will live to at least 100 years old!
Amazingly, it is actually hard to know exactly how long they live for because throughout history, they have actually outlived the people that have studied them!
THEY LOVE THEIR VEG!
These guys a veggie mad! Mainly being herbivores, they eat:
THEY SPREAD LIFE!
On the islands on which they live, the tortoises play a very similar role to the ones elephants do in Africa and Asia. As with elephants, they are the main consumers of vegetation and noticeably alter the habitat during their search for food. The Tortoises have been known to knock over small trees and shrubs to obtain nutritious leaves. This makes pathways and clearings within the forestlands for other animals. Seeds pass through the tortoise’s digestive tract and eventually become food for many other species.
THEY START LIFE TINY!!
Like most reptiles, Aldabra Tortoises lay eggs! Once a male and female have mated, the female will lay 10-20 spherical eggs and then bury them in the sand or soil where they are incubated by the heat of the sun for a two month period. When the hatchlings emerge they are only about 6 centimetres long and have soft shells! Trust me when I say THEY ARE RIDICULOUSLY CUTE!
WHAT AN EXPERIENCE
I loved the time I spent with Goliath and Igloo, Australia Zoo’s Aldabra Tortoises on my experience with them. They were both so laid back and loved getting a good fuss! It was certainly an experience I would recommend to anyone if you do get the chance, so be sure to go and find a real life giant at your local zoo soon and see just how awesome they are for yourself!
For more info on the Aldabra Tortoise encounter at Australia Zoo, check out their website: