The Aldabra Giant Tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea) is a large reptile, a chelonian, from the remote Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean.
The Aldabra Giant Tortoise has a grey-brown dome-shaped carapace (shell). It has a very long neck, and dark eyes. Its legs are short and stumpy, with flat feet – it is a slow mover.
It grows to about 105 centimetres (41 inches) long.
The Aldabra Giant Tortoise prefers grasslands and swamps with low vegetation.
It is a grazer, feeding on grass. It can drink water from shallow pools through its nostrils (nose).
The female Aldabra Giant Tortoise lays about 25 eggs in a dry, shallow nest on the ground, which hatch after 8 months. The temperature of the nest determines the gender of the baby tortoises. Warm temperatures yield more females, wheras colder temperatures yield more males. This is called temperature-dependent sex determination. The babies stay in the nest for a few weeks.
Giant tortoises are among the world’s longest-living animals, with an average lifespan of 100 years.
[Location of photographs: Haller Park in Mombasa, Kenya and Paris Zoo, France]
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM