Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Aldabra tortoise

By MSA 2005 Map showing grasslands, scrub, mangrove swamps habitats in Aldabra Atoll (Indian Ocean)


Class Reptilia
Order: Chelonia
Family: Testudinidae
Genus and species: Geochelone gigantea

Male Aldabra tortoises generally weigh around 350 pounds, while females are smaller, with an average weight of 265 pounds. The National Zoo's females are even smaller, at about 150 pounds, but the males are more than 500 pounds. They are surpassed in size only by the Galapagos tortoise.

Because Aldabra tortoises are so heavy, they are horrible swimmers. They also tend to get stuck in the mud like a tank. For these reasons, these tortoises prefer to stay on dry land rather than go into the water or mud.

Besides being extremely large, Aldabra tortoises also have an extremely long life span. They can live more than 100 years.

In the wild, Aldabra tortoises' diet consists primarily of vegetation, but they will eat small invertebrates and some carrion.

Sexual maturity in the Aldabra tortoise is determined by size rather than age. When females are about half of their adult size, they begin to reproduce. They will lay anywhere from nine to 25 eggs at a time, and can have several clutches of eggs in one year.

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