Shambu's Wildshots
The Galapagos Tortoise
When in the Galapagos, be a Galapagos tortoise! That was what Shambu wanted to do when he visited the Galapagos Islands. Let’s find out more about this tortoise.

  • Among vertebrates (animals with backbones), the Galapagos tortoise lives the longest at around 100 years. The oldest tortoise on record lived for 152 years!
  • The average Galapagos tortoise is about 1.2 m tall—that is roughly 24 AA batteries stacked one on top of the other. Its average weight is 215 kg, which is about as heavy as 35,834 ₹5 coins.
  • There are two types of the Galapagos tortoise. The larger type has a round, dome-shaped shell and is therefore called a dome. The smaller type has a shell that curls up in the front like a saddle and is aptly called a saddleback.
  • Their shell isn’t completely solid. From the inside, it is made up of empty honeycomb-shaped structures that are full of air. This helps the tortoise bear the weight of its shell.
  • The shell is also part of the tortoise’s body; the rib bones are fused with the shell. So no, the tortoise can’t crawl or walk out of its shell like we see in cartoons.
  • The Galapagos tortoise grazes, basks in the sun and naps for almost 16 hours a day.
  • It is herbivorous, which means it eats plants. Its favourite food is prickly pear cactus, but it also eats fruits, flowers, leaves and grass.
  • The Galapagos tortoise’s body is also slow in breaking down food, so it can store a large amount of water and the tortoise can live for up to a year without eating or drinking.
  • When it feels threatened, the tortoise pulls into its shell with a hiss. The hiss is just the tortoise letting air out of its lungs.

National Geographic
San Diego Zoo
Reserve Bank of India

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