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.