Aldabra giant tortoise

Aldabrachelys gigantea
Giant tortoises Our resident gentle giants
Type reptile
Size 120cm
Weight 250kg
Diet herbivore
  • Summary

    This species live to at least 100 years old - Bristol Zoo's male is thought to be over 80 years old. They can weigh over 250kg and are so big that their head and legs cannot be completely withdrawn into their shells. The shell does not need to serve as protection from predators because there are no predators on the islands where they evolved.

  • Dietary

    Aldabra giant tortoises eat grass, vegetation and herbs. On Aldabra, where are they are found in the wild, these tortoises graze on the grass of the island, so much so that the grasses themselves have adopted a special low-growing form to avoid being killed completely by the tortoises. The tortoises start to feed early in the morning before it is too hot, when the dew is thick on the grass.

  • Habitat

    In the wild, giant tortoises graze on tropical grassland in large numbers and live around the coast of the Seychelles. The Aldabran giant tortoise is found on the Aldabra Atoll. They can be found crammed together, often stacked on top of each other, beneath the shade of the sparse trees and bushes on their island.

    Animal Habitat Range

  • Conservation

    Giant tortoises were found on all islands in the western Indian Ocean until Mauritius was colonised in the 1600s and an increasing number of settlers and explorers visited the Seychelles islands, removing and killing tortoises. The Aldabra giant tortoise is classified as Vulnerable and Bristol Zoo is maintaining a population in human care.

    IUCN Red List species link

  • Did you know...

    In the wild, the main hazard to a giant tortoise is getting caught out in the midday sun too far from shade as they can rapidly overheat and die. They have a special flap inside their head that allow them to suck water up their noses continuously without raising their heads. They live in such a dry habitat that drinking quickly and efficiently like this is an important survival technique.

  • Where to find us at Bristol Zoo

    You can find our giant tortoises right next to the Reptile House, near Twilight World and the Aquarium

    Bristol Zoo Gardens Map

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