Aldabra tortoises have a similar role in their habitat as elephants do in Africa and Asia. These tortoises are the largest consumer of vegetation, and will often knock over small trees in search for food. They shape the habitat, creating small pathways and clearings for other animals.
The Aldabra tortoise is the only remaining tortoise in the small islands of the Indian Ocean. Tortoises were a major food source for sailors in the 19th century. Additionally, introduced pest species, such as rats, pigs, and cats, decimated the native tortoises, as they prey upon eggs and hatchlings. Charles Darwin himself helped establish a captive breeding program for the Aldabra tortoise on the island of Mauritius, and helped to protect some of the remaining natural habitat. Therefore, the Aldabra tortoise is one of the first species to receive special protection to ensure its survival.
This Aldabra tortoise is the second largest species of tortoise in the world, only second to the Galapagos tortoise.
These tortoises have extremely long necks, in order to help reach leaves on branches up to 3 or 4 feet high. These tortoises may even knock over small trees and shrubs.
The Seychelles Atoll, north of Madagascar
Grasslands, scrublands, coastal dunes, mangrove swamps
Over 3 feet long, females may weigh up to 250 pounds, and males may weigh 500+ pounds
Grass, plant materials, and occasionally carrion
Eggs and hatchlings may be preyed upon.
Thick shell and sheer size make this animal extremely well protected
Average clutch size is between 10-25 eggs
Over 100 years