They’re slow, large and were once described by Charles Darwin as ‘inhabitants of some other planet.’ What are we talking about? The Galapagos Tortoise of course!

The Galapagos Islands are home to some of the most unique flora and fauna in the world, the most well-known being the Galapagos Tortoise. But how much do you know about them?

1. Longest-living vertebrate

Not only is the Galapagos Tortoise the largest tortoise in the world, they’re also the longest living vertebrate! On average, they can live to be over 100 years old with the oldest recorded tortoise having lived to 175 years old!

2. Hold the food

Let’s be honest, we’ve all experienced starting the day without coffee or a few hours without food (hello hangry!) but imagine going an entire year without food or drink?! A hard pass for anyone, right?! Well, not for a Galapagos Tortoise! They can store water and food in their body allowing them to go without for an entire 12 months! This unique ability comes in handy when vegetation is scarce or during times of drought. 

3. Slow and steady wins the race

Well, only if that race was walking really, really, slowly and you were a Galapagos Tortoise. The average speed of a Galapagos Tortoise is 0.26km/h. To put that into perspective, the average speed of a human being walking is 4.5km/h. So, if you’re not a fan of getting stuck behind a slow walker then you may want to power walk on by a Galapagos Tortoise.

4. Love is a (peaceful) battlefield

Male Galapagos Tortoises are known to fight each other when competing for the attention of a female. When it comes to resolving these courting disputes these mild-mannered tortoises prefer to avoid violence. Both males will stretch their necks and the tortoise with the longest neck is the winner. Some tortoises can reach heights of 1.5m!

5. Gender is all in the temperature

A female Galapagos Tortoise can lay around two to 20 tennis ball sized eggs (ouch!) during breeding season and will spend between four to eight months incubating these eggs – where the temperature of the nest will play a role in the gender of the hatchlings. Higher temperatures tend to produce more female hatchlings and lower temperatures tend to produce more males. 

Want to meet Perth Zoo’s Galapagos Tortoises Cerro and Sierra? Be sure to book yourself in for a close encounter and learn all about them (while giving them their favourite snack, of course!)