These mild, long-lived tortoises even fight like gentlemen; the winner is the one with the longest neck.
Description: Galapagos Tortoises are the largest tortoises in the world. They are commonly split into two groups depending on the shape of their shell or ‘carapace’. The saddle-back carapace has a curved shell front which allows the tortoise’s neck to extend and reach food in higher places.
Diet: Galapagos Tortoises are herbivores and feed on leaves and flowers. One of their favourites is the Opuntia cactus, or ‘Prickly Pear’.
In the wild: When male tortoises are competing for females, they have a ‘height fight’. The males stand tall and stretch their neck up as high as they can. The male that is the highest wins the fight. Some tortoises can reach heights of 1.5 m.
Threats: There are 14 recognised species of Galapagos Tortoise, three of which are now extinct. In the past, nearly 200,000 tortoises were taken from the island by sailors and pirates for food. Today, there are less than 20,000 tortoises living on the Galapagos archipelago.
Introduced species are now the greatest threat to these tortoises. Pigs, cats and dogs eat tortoise eggs and hatchlings. Competition from feral goats and cattle has caused a shortage of food.
Did you know?
Galapagos Tortoises are one of the longest living animals. The oldest recorded tortoise lived to 175 years old!