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Galápagos Tortoise

on November 23, 2011
Zoo Guide: mini spiral-bound

The shell of the tortoise is not solid; it is made of hollow structures that are like air chambers.

Design

Galapagos Tortoise

The shell of the tortoise is not solid; it is made of hollow structures that are like air chambers. This design gives the tortoise the ability to carry its shell without being crushed beneath its weight. The shell protects the lungs of the tortoise, which are located on top of the animal’s body. However, if the tortoise is turned on its back, it may suffocate because its body could crush the lungs. The saddle-backed shell of some gives them a wider range of mobility, allowing the animal to reach up and get plants that are higher off the ground.

Features

  • Of the original 14 subspecies of Galápagos tortoises, three are extinct; the rest are endangered.
  • These subspecies have different leg and neck lengths, shell shapes, and sizes.

Fun Facts

  • Yes, tortoises are slow. They move at just 0.2 mph (0.3 km/h).
  • Male tortoises fight by stretching their necks as high as they can. The one with the highest reach wins.
  • The Galápagos tortoise can pull its head, tail, and legs completely inside its shells, unlike a sea turtle.

Created Kind Members

Leopard tortoise, Indian star tortoise

CLASS: Reptilia (reptiles)
ORDER: Testudines (tortoises and turtles)
FAMILY: Testudinidae (tortoises)
GENUS/SPECIES: Geochelone nigra

Size: Males: up to 6 ft (1.8 m); Females: 4–5 ft (1.2–1.5 m)
Weight: Males: up to 575 lbs (260 kg); Females: 300 lbs (136 kg)
Original Diet: Plants
Present Diet: Cactus, fruits, vines, and grasses
Habitat: Hot and dry islands and cooler, wetter islands within the Galápagos Islands

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