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Aldabra Tortoise - Geochelone gigantea

By: Jason Abels – Assistant Director www.tigerhomes.org Animal Sanctuary
Aldabra Tortoise Picture
Aldabra Tortoise
Pictures of Aldabra Tortoises >>
The Aldabra Tortoise (Geochelone gigantea) is the world’s 2nd Largest Tortoise and is native to Aldabra Island & introduced to the Seychelles Islands. These islands are located off the South East tip of Africa very close to my favorite island, Madagascar (Madagascar or “Lemur Island” is where the Sanctuary's LEMURS are native). CLICK HERE TO SEE ANIMAL WEBCAMS

Like the Galapagos Tortoise, the Aldabra Tortoise is a true giant! Easily reaching a Total Body Weight over 500 pounds, this tortoise is often confused with its larger counterpart the Galapagos Tortoise. Although the Aldabra Tortoise may weigh a few hundred pounds less then the Galapagos Tortoise, they are extremely hard to tell apart from each other visually unless you are an expert. For one thing, an adult Aldabra Tortoise reaches almost the same maximum length as the Galapagos near 55 inches (straight line measurement).

The easiest way to distinguish these two species apart from each other is the presence of a “Nuchal Scute”, located on the Tortoise Carapace (Upper Shell). This extra scute is located midline just above the tortoise’s neck. I will include Pictures Of Aldabra Tortoises next to a Galapagos Tortoise Picture detailing this anatomical difference. After seeing these side-by-side Photos of Galapagos and Aldabra Tortoises, you will see how easy it is to tell them apart. You just need to know what you are looking for.

As mentioned in the educational piece on the Galapagos Tortoise, the Tigerhomes Sanctuary does not currently house either of these Prehistoric Giants, YET! Both David and I would love to create a large naturalist habitat one day for them in addition to installing a few High Quality Web Cams for our visitors. We have been very fortunate to work with both of these species in the past and can only say that they are some of the most incredible reptiles. Both species need and deserve our protection and it is the hopes of both David and I that our Educational Web Site will help instill an interest in our viewers to protect all species.

Aldabra Tortoises are doing much better than the Galapagos Tortoise in the wild. Wild Populations of Aldabra Tortoises are estimated to be over 140,000 just on Aldabra Island alone with an estimated 1500 + captive US animals. Compare these #’s to that of the 9000 or so Wild Galapagos Tortoises and you can easily see a big difference. This is why the Galapagos Tortoise is classified as an Endangered Species while the Aldabra is classified as Threatened. The biggest problem facing the survival of the Aldabra Tortoise is the fact that Wild Populations are so concentrated. In fact, the concentration of Wild Aldabra’s is so dense that it is more concentrated then any other living wild tortoise species. The big problem with this is that it leaves the entire population extremely vulnerable to being completely wiped out by disease and or Natural Disaster, such as a Tsunami or Volcanic Eruption. Obviously I am beyond saddened by the loss of human life and the extreme amount of suffering of all the surviving Tsunami Victims and their families. I am also concerned about some of the Endangered Animals living in the areas hit by the Tsunami Wave. For example, one of the hardest hit areas was Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is also home to one of the Rarest Tortoise species, the Sri Lanka Star Tortoise (Geochelone elegans). I am still waiting to hear some follow up reports from individual countries concerning their Indigenous Animals. David and I both receive e-mails from other Sanctuaries in Tsunami affected Countries on a regular basis. Some were hit pretty badly! Anyway, I am deviating from the subject of Aldabra Tortoises : )

Like the Galapagos Tortoises, Captive Aldabra’s do very well in captivity providing each and every one of their very species specific Husbandry Requirements are met. This obviously includes a tremendously large habitat located in a suitable climate with the proper photoperiod (Length of Daylight). Adult Males obtain a much larger size then that of the females. At birth, Baby Aldabra Tortoises typically hatch out at about 2 ½ inches and weigh less then 3 ounces. Even the giants are born small! The Incubation Period on average takes between 90 and 117 days before the Aldabra Babies are hatched. As with most species of Tortoise Eggs, the preferred Incubation Temperature for Aldabra Eggs is 86 degrees.

Tortoise Intelligence is a hard subject to talk about because it is so hard to clarify intelligence on the animal’s terms and not on how their Perceived Intelligence compares to our human interpretation or anthropomorphic terms. As discussed in the piece on the Galapagos Tortoise, Aldabra’s by comparison are less intelligent. Their personalities are extremely different (especially to their keepers). Galapagos Tortoises are extremely outgoing and actually seek the company and interactions of Human Companionship, were the Aldabra’s typically do not. In general, Aldabra’s are considered to be shy tortoises. Before I end this piece, I would like to explain one more interesting behavioral difference between the two species. Galapagos Tortoises are typically loners in the wild seeking companionship primarily for reproduction (Like Tigers), while Aldabra Tortoises are known to have “Herding Behaviors”, seeking each other’s company socially (Like Lions).

As always, both David and I hope you found this piece interesting. We invite you to check out other areas of the Sanctuary’s Web Site such as our World famous Animal Web Cams and “Education Center”. Where else can you see 4 different species of Lemurs, 3 different color morphs of Tiger, African Leopards and even Black Maned Lions ALL ON MULTIPLE WEB CAMS?



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