Facts about Galapagos tortoise. "Scientific name for the Galapagos tortoises is Chelonoidis nigra". Galapagos tortoise also known as Galapagos giant tortoises. This is because they are the biggest living species of tortoises. They are also the heaviest living reptiles. The Galapagos tortoise weigh up to 400 kg (880 lbs.) and their length is up to 1.8 meters (6 feet).
The size of the shell and shape entirely depends on the populations. You will discover that the ones from humid highlands and the ones form dry lowlands differ. The Galapagos tortoise form humid highlands are bigger with domed shells and short necks whereas the ones from dry lowlands are smaller with long necks.
The Galapagos tortoises are endangered and their number has been decreasing by day. This is because their meat and oil is preferred by humans who in turn kill them. The Galapagos tortoise habitats have been cleared too to pave way for agriculture. In fact it is noted that they rarely survive in the wilderness. Efforts are being made to conserve them especially by keeping them in captivity.
Galapagos tortoises have a large bony shell that is dull brown in color. Their shell segment has patterns throughout their life. Lichens are believed to grow on their shell since they are slow moving animals. Lichens mostly grow on rocks.
The legs are large, have scaly skin and hard scales. The fore legs have five claws whereas the hind legs have four. One would think that the Galapagos tortoise are deaf but in actual sense they are not. It is always hard for them to hear a person coming from behind but once you pass, they will take their head and legs in their shell.
Galapagos mating season can be any time of the year. But it has seasonal peaks which are believed to be between February and June in the rainy season. When the males meet for mating reasons, they normally face each other displaying their dominance. The Galapagos tortoise stand, stretch their necks and open their mouths. If need be, they bite each other and the short tortoises are the ones that suffers. The dominance is seen especially for the species that have longer necks because they are more aggressive. In most cases, the weaker ones back off.
The male Galapagos tortoise forcefully ram the female making very loud noises that are common only in mating season. After mating the females travel for several kilometers (Miles) in July all the way to November to nesting places. They just dig a 30 cm (11 to 12 inches) deep cylindrical hole that they use to deposit their eggs. Up to sixteen spherical and hard shelled eggs are laid. The eggs are around 2.9 to 5.5 ounces (82 to 157 grams) and they are a size of a billiard ball.
The Galapagos tortoise mix their urine with soil to make muddy plug that they use to seal the nest. The eggs are left under the sun to incubate. Each season, females can lay up to 4 clutches and male sex of the hatchling entirely depends on the temperature. In lower temperatures more males are produced whereas in high temperatures more females are produced.
The hatch-lings hatch after eight months and the Galapagos tortoise are supposed to dig their way up. There are some that die underground. Hatchling's embryo sap can contain them up to seven months.
Galapagos tortoises are herbivorous that mostly eat grass, leaves and berries.