Galapagos tortoise Facts

Galapagos tortoise Facts
Galapagos tortoise is the largest tortoise on the planet. This beautiful animal can be found only on the Island of Galapagos. Out of 15 known subspecies of Galapagos tortoises, only 11 are left in the wild. They can survive in different habitats, from dry lowlands to humid highlands. Galapagos tortoises were massively hunted during the 17th, 18th and 19th century by sailors and whale hunters because of their meat. As a result, several subspecies went extinct and number of remaining subspecies decreased drastically. All remaining Galapagos tortoises are listed as endangered.
Interesting Galapagos tortoise Facts:
Galapagos tortoises are the largest tortoises that can reach 4 feet in length and 475 pounds of weight.
Galapagos tortoises have brown, protective shell around the body. Upper side of the shell is called carapace. Lower part of the shell is known as plastron.
Shell is an integral part of their skeleton (it cannot be removed from the rest of the body). When tortoise is threatened, it can pull the head and legs inside the shell.
Galapagos tortoise has stumpy feet covered with scaly skin. They have strong jaws without teeth.
Galapagos tortoises that live in drier areas have saddle-shaped shell, which allows stretching of the necks to grab vegetation that grows above the ground such as vines, leaves and fruit.
Galapagos tortoises that live in colder climates have dome-shaped shell which prevents stretching of the necks. They feed by grazing the grass.
Unlike any other animal, Galapagos tortoise can survive up to one year without food and water.
Galapagos tortoises are slow-moving creatures. They can travel long distances at speed of 0.18 miles per hour.
Galapagos tortoises are cold-blooded animals (they do not have stable body temperature). Because of that, Galapagos tortoises enjoy basking in the sun.
Galapagos Islands are named that way because of these tortoises. When the first Spanish sailors arrived to the island, they spotted large number of tortoises. Since tortoise is called "Galapago" in Spanish, the whole island is named Galapagos Island.
Besides humans as their worst enemies, natural predators of Galapagos tortoises are hawks that eat eggs and young tortoises. Introduced species such as pigs, cats, dogs and rats additionally decrease the number of eggs in the wild.
Mating season takes place during rainy season, from January to March.
Female travels several kilometers to find suitable terrain for laying eggs. She lays between 2 and 16 eggs in the underground nest. Eggs will hatch after 4 to 8 months. Galapagos tortoises do not show parental care - young tortoises are left on their own.
Because of the large number of predators, only small number of hatchlings survives until the adulthood. Galapagos tortoises become sexually mature at the age of 20 - 25 years.
Galapagos tortoises can survive more than 100 years in the wild.

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