Aldabra giant tortoise

Aldabrachelys gigantea

The Aldabra giant tortoise , from the islands of the Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles, is one of the largest tortoises in the world. Historically, giant tortoises were on many of the western Indian Ocean islands, as well as Madagascar, and the fossil record indicates giant tortoises once occurred on every continent and many islands with the exception of Australia and Antarctica. Many of the Indian Ocean species were thought to be driven to extinction by over-exploitation by European sailors, and they were all seemingly extinct by 1840 with the exception of the Aldabran giant tortoise on the island atoll of Aldabra. Although some remnant individuals of ''A. g. hololissa'' and ''A. g. arnoldi'' may remain in captivity, in recent times, these have all been reduced as subspecies of ''A. g. gigantea''.
Giant Tortoise  Aldabra giant tortoise,Aldabrachelys gigantea,Cylindraspis triserrata,Domed Mauritius giant tortoise,Geotagged,Mauritius,Winter

Appearance

The carapace is a brown or tan color with a high, domed shape. It has stocky, heavily scaled legs to support its heavy body. The neck of the Aldabra giant tortoise is very long, even for its great size, which helps the animal to exploit tree branches up to a meter from the ground as a food source. Similar in size to the famous Galápagos giant tortoise, its carapace averages 122 cm in length with an average weight of 250 kg . Females are generally smaller than males, with average specimens measuring 91 cm in length and weighing 159 kg . Medium-sized specimens in captivity were reported as 70 to 110 kg in body mass. Another study found body masses of up to 132 kg most commonplace.
Aldabra Giant Tortoise Close-up In honor of my new karma class on JungleDragon! We saw these on La Curieuse island as part of the 3-island tour where they have been reintroduced after having been wiped out by the Europeans. They are very tame and friendly and enjoy (or at least don't protest) having their pictures taken. Aldabra giant tortoise,Aldabrachelys gigantea,Curieuse Island,Geotagged,Seychelles,Spring

Distribution

The main population of the Aldabra giant tortoise resides on the islands of the Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles. The atoll has been protected from human influence and is home to some 100,000 giant tortoises, the world's largest population of the animal. Smaller populations of ''A. gigantea'' in the Seychelles exist in the Sainte Anne Marine National Park . Another isolated population of the species resides on the island of Changuu, near Zanzibar, and other captive populations exist in conservation parks in Mauritius and Rodrigues. The tortoises exploit many different kinds of habitat, including grasslands, low scrub, mangrove swamps, and coastal dunes.
Aldabra Tortoise  Aldabra giant tortoise,Aldabrachelys gigantea

Status

The Aldabra giant tortoise has an unusually long history of organized conservation. Albert Gunther of the British Museum, who later moved to the Natural History Museum of London worked with the government of Mauritius to establish a preserve at the end of the 19th century. The related, but distinct, species of giant tortoise from the Seychelles islands are the subject of a captive-breeding and reintroduction program by the Nature Protection Trust of Seychelles.
Aldabra Giant Tortoise (full body) Habitat is forest, swamps and grasslands of Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelle Islands, north of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. They live in excess of 100 years. Smaller than the Galapogos Tortoise. They are herbivore. Has long necks to enable them to reach branches 1 metre above the ground. Weight is 250kgs for male and 150kgs for female Aldabra giant tortoise,Aldabrachelys gigantea

Behavior

Aldabra tortoises are found both individually and in herds, which tend to gather mostly on open grasslands. They are most active in the mornings, when they spend time browsing for food. They dig underground burrows or rest in swamps to keep cool during the heat of the day.

While they are characteristically slow and cautious, they are capable of appreciable speed. They are also known to attempt perilous acrobatic feats, rising precariously on their hind legs to reach low branches. They risk death by tipping onto their backs and being unable to right themselves. This unusual behavior led Mexican biologist José Antonio de Alzate y Ramírez to refer to the Aldabra as the "ninjas" of the tortoise world.
Galileo, a multi-centenarian tortoise In captivity, in a private garden named "Domaine de Fontenay" just outside Amber Mountain. Their website claims an age of 250-300 years. From the Wikipedia page, this seems unlikely. The species has the capability to live over 200 years, but the claim of 250-300 can not be verified and is way outside documented cases.

As an indication of size, for an average-sized male human, in this photo the head would be around chest-level. It's quite a beast. I'm not sure what it weighs, but it can easily carry a human around, it will hardly notice you. This species (or its related species) no longer occurs in Madagascar natively, but there are plans to introduce them again. 

As for Domaine de Fontenay, it left us with a bad feeling. This animal's living situation was not great. We also saw a crowned lemur (a rare locally endemic lemur) chained and carried around like a pet, likely to collect money. So fuck Domaine de Fontenay, don't go there.  Africa,Aldabra giant tortoise,Aldabrachelys gigantea,Amber Mountain,Geotagged,Madagascar,Madagascar North,Spring,World

Habitat

A peculiar habitat has coevolved due to the grazing pressures of the tortoises: "tortoise turf", a comingling of 20+ species of grasses and herbs. Many of these distinct plants are naturally dwarfed and grow their seeds not from the tops of the plants, but closer to the ground to avoid the tortoises' close-cropping jaws.

As the largest animal in its environment, the Aldabra tortoise performs a role similar to that of the elephant. Their vigorous search for food fells trees and creates pathways used by other animals.Primarily herbivores, Aldabra giant tortoises eat grasses, leaves, and woody plant stems. They occasionally indulge in small invertebrates and carrion, even eating the bodies of other dead tortoises. In captivity, Aldabra giant tortoises are known to consume fruits such as apples and bananas, as well as compressed vegetable pellets.

Little fresh water is available for drinking in the tortoises' natural habitat, so they obtain most of their moisture from their food.

The Aldabra tortoise has two main varieties of shells. Specimens living in habitats with food available primarily on the ground have more dome-shaped shells with the front extending downward over the neck. Those living in an environment with food available higher above the ground have more flattened top shells with the front raised to allow the neck to extend upward freely.
Aldabre Giant Tortoise.  Close up of shell  Aldabra giant tortoise,Aldabrachelys gigantea

Reproduction

Between February and May, females lay between 9 and 25 rubbery eggs in a shallow, dry nest. Usually, less than half of the eggs are fertile. Females can produce multiple clutches of eggs in a year. After incubating for about eight months, the tiny, independent young hatch between October and December.

In captivity, oviposition dates vary. Tulsa Zoo maintains a small herd of Aldabra tortoises and they have reproduced several times since 1999. One female typically lays eggs in November and again in January, providing the weather is warm enough to go outside for laying. The zoo also incubates their eggs artificially, keeping two separate incubators at 27°C and 30°C . On average, the eggs kept at the latter temperature hatch in 107 days.
Aldabra Gaint Tortoise  Aldabra giant tortoise,Aldabrachelys gigantea

Food

Primarily herbivores, Aldabra giant tortoises eat grasses, leaves, and woody plant stems. They occasionally indulge in small invertebrates and carrion, even eating the bodies of other dead tortoises. In captivity, Aldabra giant tortoises are known to consume fruits such as apples and bananas, as well as compressed vegetable pellets.

Little fresh water is available for drinking in the tortoises' natural habitat, so they obtain most of their moisture from their food.

The Aldabra tortoise has two main varieties of shells. Specimens living in habitats with food available primarily on the ground have more dome-shaped shells with the front extending downward over the neck. Those living in an environment with food available higher above the ground have more flattened top shells with the front raised to allow the neck to extend upward freely.
Aldabra Giant Tortoise  Aldabra giant tortoise,Aldabrachelys gigantea

Evolution

Large tortoises are among the longest-lived animals on the planet. Some individual Aldabra giant tortoises are thought to be over 200 years of age, but this is difficult to verify because they tend to outlive their human observers. Adwaita was reputedly one of four brought by British seamen from the Seychelles Islands as gifts to Robert Clive of the British East India Company in the 18th century, and came to Calcutta Zoo in 1875. At his death in March 2006 at the Kolkata Zoo in India, Adwaita is reputed to have reached the longest ever measured lifespan of 255 years . Today, Jonathan, a Seychelles Giant Tortoise , is thought to be the oldest living giant tortoise at the age of 184 years and Esmeralda is second at the age of 170 years, since the death of Harriet at 176, a Galapagos giant tortoise. Esmeralda is an Aldabra giant tortoise.

References:

Some text fragments are auto parsed from Wikipedia.

Taxonomy
KingdomAnimalia
DivisionChordata
ClassReptilia
OrderTestudines
FamilyTestudinidae
GenusAldabrachelys
SpeciesA. gigantea