All Things Kenyan

Giant Tortoises of Africa

Name: Giant Tortoise (Reunion Giant Tortoise, Saddle-backed Mauritius Giant Tortoise, Domed Rodrigues Giant Tortoise, Domed Mauritius Giant Tortoise, Saddle-backed Rodrigues Giant Tortoise, Seychelles giant tortoise, Arnold’s Giant Tortoise, Aldabra Giant Tortoise)

Scientific Name: Cylindraspis indica, Cylindraspis inepta, Cylindraspis peltastes, Cylindraspis triserrata, Cylindraspis vosmaeri, Dipsochelys hololissa, Dipsochelys arnoldi, Geochelone gigantea/Dipspchelys dussumieri

Giant TortoiseHeight: 4 feet long (1.3 m)

Average Adult Weight: Up to 660 pounds (300 kg)

Life Span: up to 100 years.

Description: The head and legs of these tortoises are too big to be completely pulled into their shells.

Habitat: Tropical grasslands and coastal areas.

Countries found in: Madagascar, Seychelles, Reunion, Mauritius and islands off East Africa. The world’s largest population of giant tortoise is on the Aldabra Atoll in Seychelles with about 100,000 tortoises.

Babies: A female tortoise digs a hole on the beach and lays between 5 and 19 eggs. About two months later the baby tortoises hatch. The soft shelled eggs are vulnerable to robber crabs, frigate birds, rats, and cats.

Food: Grasses, herbs, and dead turtles and tortoises. Tortoises eat in the cool of the morning and late evening.

Habits: Tortoises can be found crammed together and stacked up on top of each other beneath the shade of a tree during to day to avoid the hot sun.

Conservation Status:
Aldabra Giant Tortoise – Vulnerable
Seychelles Giant Tortoise – Extinct in the Wild
Arnold’s Giant Tortoise – Extinct in the Wild
Domed Mauritius Giant Tortoise – Extinct
Saddle-backed Mauritius Giant Tortoise – Extinct
R̩union Giant Tortoise РExtinct

The Nature Protection Trust of the Seychelles has set up a breeding program for the Seychelles Giant Tortoise to ensure their survival. There are currently less than 40 alive in captivity.

Predators: Mostly free of predators in the wild.